Living in today’s digital age confirms that we are in the passage of a remarkable sea change — the evolution of women’s status — staying single and putting off marriage by choice. In the 60’s, the average age for women to marry ranged between 18 and 29. Fast forward to today, that number has declined by leaps and bounds! Kristin Dombeck’s New York Times report last Sept. 9, 2015, states, “The number of women between 30 and 34 who are not marrying has increased by 31% between 2007 and 2012.” These numbers show exceptional attitudinal shifts on women – reflecting that women aren’t single because there are fewer men around; women are single because they simply choose to be.
What does it mean to be a single woman? Let’s see what it’s like by walking in a single woman’s shoes as we navigate through life in various key areas — social, political, family, and financial areas — circa 2016.
Once upon a time, unattached women dining out on their own were an awkward experience. Not anymore. Now, we can dine at restaurants on our own without being harassed; we can watch a movie by ourselves without feeling weird; we accept dinner invitations without a plus one and no one asks us anymore why we’re not married. We do activities on our own — and I mean, real activities — not just shopping. We go on a bike ride across the country; we go for long hikes; we sail our own boats, and we learn how to fly a plane. We travel across the globe on our own. We learn new skills. We’ve morphed into more learned individuals embracing single blessedness as a wonderful opportunity to get to know ourselves better and that we can actually have a social life without a plus one!
As a Canadian single mom, I couldn’t have been more proud when Justin Trudeau wisely picked his cabinet which reflected equality — 15 women and 15 men. When asked why — he nonchalantly answered: “Because it’s 2016.” Precisely. He was wise to do so because unmarried women voters are fast becoming a powerful voting demographic — in both the US and Canada. In 2012, single women voted for Obama by a wide margin of 67%. It still remains to be seen, if unwed women will rally behind Clinton in this year’s election the way they did for Obama. Single women are hoping that the first plausible US female president can acknowledge the fact that unattached women living outside the perimeters of the marital institution which living conditions, housing, tax, and social reforms were designed for — have a set of essentials that have yet to be met. It would do Clinton a great favour — if like Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama — she recognizes and builds a more inspiring campaign based on the growing independent female voters’ needs. But after the elections, a lot more still has to be done and we’re hoping that the first probable US female president can do just that and more.
FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS AREA
In 2007 in Canada, 80% of lone-parent families were headed by women, which represented 13% of total families in Canada. This means that for those women out there who haven’t found The One — now is the right time to be born! As years progressed, we seem okay with the idea of embracing parenthood on our own and not be chastised for it by a judgmental society. Single motherhood no longer bears the stamp of the scarlet letter on their foreheads. Of greater significance, older, unattached women are no longer classified as “poor, miserable, barren spinsters” — they can live their lives in peace knowing that it’s okay not to have children. It’s okay not to be married at a certain age. Moreover, it is perfectly okay to be alone. We are no longer dictated by our biological clocks — hurrah! As Gloria Steinem had predicted in the 70’s: “we’re becoming the men we wanted to marry!” Now in 2016, it is perfectly acceptable for women to remain a bachelorette and yes, dare I say, sow their oats. Admittedly, in other countries, single women still have a long way to go. But this is where education kicks in — governments around the world must continue to address and tackle the various structural barriers to gender equality through education and social reforms.
FINANCIAL AND CAREER AREAS
We’ve cracked many ceilings with regard to our respective careers — we can be who we want to be. However, there are still a lot of financial barriers that need to be addressed for women in general —not just single women. In a 2007 Canadian statistic, full-time employed women earned just 71.4% of the average earnings of men — talk about pay inequity! Across the south of the border, women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make! Ouch. Nowadays, women pay for their own mortgage or rent and daily expenses. We raise our own children — some without spousal or child support. The question is very simple: Why should there be a difference in pay scale for two people doing the exact same job? This is the question that everyone should be asking until concrete actions to address pay inequity have been accomplished by every policy and law makers.
By walking in a single woman’s shoes on these different key areas, we learn and understand the many joys and challenges unmarried women face in their daily lives. We’re single by choice because it is the most constructive and relevant status for us. We’re not against coupling. It is not about “us versus them” anymore, it is rather, a mature outlook in life that says: we respect each other’s choices in life — live and let live.
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