Writing left handed

All the Single Ladies (and the science to back it up?)

So I’m on the phone with my new author friend, Tamara Duricka Johnson, (‘cause I’m cool like that) and she (being rather cool herself) asks, “Have you seen the November issue of The Atlantic?  I don’t usually read The Atlantic but I got a free trial subscription or something… anyway, there’s an essay I think you’d like.  It’s called ‘All the Single Ladies.’  Lots of anthropology.  Great blog fodder.  You should check it out.”

Well, there are few things that get me going more than a Beyoncé reference in conjunction with the social sciences—especially if I can blog about it!


I am, after all, in dire need of new material.  I won’t be seeing The Wedding Date for another week and a half and Date #7, the man from across the state, is refusing to go quietly.  I suppose my nineteen-paragraph email didn’t really help matters but what can I say?  Brevity has never been my forte.  He has made several good points in response—points that make me say, “Hmmm… I hadn’t considered that angle” or “Sh*t!  How did he know that?”—but for every rational argument he’s made, he’s sent an equal number of late night texts, presumably with no other intent than to convince me that he really is certifiably insane and not worth another moment of my time.

(Seriously?  2:30 in the morning to tell me you’re “disappointed” in me?  Could that not wait until morning?)

Suffice it to say, I found myself needing to write about something else today, which brings me back to Beyoncé , Kate Bolick and ‘All the Single Ladies.’

This, according to the article, is what women like me are up against.

Recent years have seen an explosion of male joblessness and a steep decline in men’s life prospects that have disrupted the “romantic market” in ways that narrow a marriage-minded woman’s options: increasingly, her choice is between deadbeats (whose numbers are rising) and playboys (whose power is growing). But this strange state of affairs also presents an opportunity: as the economy evolves, it’s time to embrace new ideas about romance and family—and to acknowledge the end of “traditional” marriage as society’s highest ideal.


It’s a rather long piece so I’ll give you the highlights:

  • There really aren’t any decent men left in the world.  And if I’d read the article again I’d probably be able to give you the statistics to back this up but I was popping Zycam tablets the whole time so I’m a bit fuzzy on the numbers.
  • I’m probably going to have to marry a shorter-than-me, younger-than-me man who makes less money than me (which means we’ll probably end living in a cardboard box on the side of the road because I make practically nothing as it is).  Yippee.
  • In societies where there are more women than men, the men are forced to bring their “A” game, lest all of the women get taken up before they get their acts together.  The women, in such societies, are highly valued (awesome!) but their participation in the workforce drops, as do literary rates (not-so-awesome).
  • In societies where women outnumber the men (i.e. post-Civil war America and an increasing number of college campuses) the surplus women are forced to compete for the attentions of fewer men.  The result?  Well, debauchery, pandemonium and a universal lowering of standards.

(So basically, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.)

Granted, Bolick’s article was all over the place, and she kept harping on her ex-boyfriend, so I’m not ready to throw in the towel just because some journalist is calling for the end of marriage as we know it.

But (surely you had to see this coming…) maybe there is something to notion that these are, in fact, troubled times.  Are eligible bachelors headed for extinction and if so, what’s to become of all the single ladies like myself?

10 Responses to “All the Single Ladies (and the science to back it up?)”

  1. Andrée Grau

    Slightly off topic, but if you want to blog about Beyonce you could discuss her plagiarism of Theresa De Keersmaeker choreography!

  2. Zak

    I think there are exactly as many good guys as good ladies in this world. The problem – as I see it – is that too many guys and too many women want the “fancy package” (best I can come up with a name for it).

    I know tons of great guys, but most women skip over them because they’re “weird,” or “too dorky,” or “too short” or whatever.

    You can have your likes and dislikes, and height (we’ve had this discussion on your blog, as I recall) is perfectly okay. But when something – or in this case, someone – good comes along, don’t just dismiss because they don’t meet your expectations initially.

    Case in point: Ms. D. I’ve mentioned to her that if I were to have kept my online serial dating up, I would’ve never picked her (assuming she was even online dating herself, which she wasn’t). She’s my height, has three kids, and has a gew years on me. But after meeting her a few times while volunteering, and each time looking forward to the next time I saw her, I knew I should just ask her out.

    As for date #7: keep ignoring. Trust me, I’ve been date #7 (from what I know). The best you can hope for is to get married, then divorced a few years later. You’ll learn a lot and regret almost all of it.

  3. Meghan

    I am reading a great book right now (I’ll send you the details later) that basically echoes what you’ve read. The author discusses how, in a post-feminist society, women have moved beyond the obsession with “having it all” to worrying about how “it all” is going to look to everyone else. The skills needed to have a successful, long-term relationship with a man are marginalized by our need for equality, power, and the promise that we’ll never have to sacrifice anything for our men.
    The research isn’t exactly prolific, but I think you’d be interested in her point of view, because the corollary is what you’re talking about here – jobless prospects affecting men (as well as women, let’s not forget), the rise of the playboy (I could write a novel on that one), and the need for women to fulfill both male and female roles in relationships – all of which competes with the compromises that make traditional marriages work. The author I’m reading sees no reason to declar the practice extinct, but maybe Bolick is on to something…

  4. Jenny Rebecca Winters

    I’m in total agreement with Zak. I was 40, divorced, no kids (except if you count a very needy 10-year-old Maine Coon) and had paid oodles of money for online dating services. I just gave up. Single life for me; I was good with that.

    But then there was Mr. W, who I had worked with in a previous job. Although jovial, friendly, respectful and kind, when I described him to my aunt for the first time it went something like this:

    “He’s a total sweetheart! But, y’know, he’s really overweight, a smoker, missing his front teeth, only has a high school education, balding…um, but he’s a total sweetheart!…oh, and he’s 36, single-never-married…” SIX things that would have ruled him completely out if I had met him on line.

    The single-never-married thing was probably the biggest, interestingly enough. I was just like ok, he’s never found his “dream girl”, and I’m certainly not a dream girl. Clearly his standards were AMAZINGLY high.

    We started dating, and his sunny, sunny personality and optimism and acceptance overshadowed his physical traits. I learned that he had been accepted to MIT after high school but overwhelmed himself with too many credits. So the “high school education” part got knocked out.

    Over a surprisingly short period of time, Mr. W got his teeth fixed, cut his hair in a flattering male fashion, dropped over 40 pounds, cut down on the smoking, and declared in his quiet sweet tone that I was his Dream Girl. Having gained more confidence in himself, he was promoted to CIO of the company.

    These days, my hottie husband sometimes has to remind me that he’s still the same guy underneath, and to quit the ogling. But the biggest point I want to make is that women should never rule out a man because he has too many superficial flaws in “Column A”. She needs to look to “Column B”, and she just may find her prince after all.

  5. charlsiekate

    Geeze, there have been a bunch of articles like this recently, and I have to say, I don’t want to read any more of them. I couldn’t read the whole atlantic one, she really lost me. Here is another example of an uplifting read – http://www.torontostandard.com/the-sprawl/the-bearable-likelihood-of-dying-alone

    I can’t say I actually think all the good ones are gone, I just think I might be a little different. That is what I liked about this article – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/fashion/sometimes-its-not-you-or-the-math-modern-love.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

    Also, text messages after midnight should only say things like, “where are you?” or something unintelligible and should never be negative and do not require a response.

    • Kat Richter

      Haha– PS, read your post about your letter to TD. What a tough situation– but good for you for telling him how you feel, taking a stand and choosing the self-preservation route. I’m sure it sucks right now but I’m also pretty sure you’ll be happier off in the long run.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: