Year of the Woman: Purging the Stigma and Flying Solo

Let's call a ceasefire...I need water...*pant*

Too many of us broads seem to have gone astray, so at the risk of sounding like a Gloria Steinem groupie, I need to reiterate something here. A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Yeah, yeah, I know…how very seventies of me. Though the meaning now is a bit gentler than the deeper “gender bashing” of the feminist era.

Back in the throes of Women’s Liberation, we thrashed around, exclaiming, “That’s right!” “Men: Who Needs ’em! What’s the goddamn point!” We realized in astonishment that while men are perfectly nice creatures, and good for some things (ahem), they are not the point of our existence. We didn’t need to depend on them financially or emotionally, nor did we need them to feel complete. It was a time when we called each other, “sisters” and felt a sort of kinship.

Somewhere down the line, it occurred to us, that although men weren’t necessary to our survival, life could be a lot more fulfilling with a man in your bed…or hooking up your stereo..or whatever..

The much publicized Year of the Woman, was a fabulous thing, but in all the hooplah and consciousness raising, we seemed to have forgotten the true status of men. Too many of us were feeling desperate to find someone, settle down and marry for fear we’d look ridiculous! The pressure was on again and history was repeating itself.

In my last post, Ode to Guilt and Shame: The Stigma of Solo, I emphasized that too many of us who are alone, feel absurdly bleak and covert about our loneliness―we’re all secretive and tight-lipped because of the stigma society puts on single people. If you’re alone, you’re miserable and your life is tragic…”

For one of my readers, this post was especially hard to process. Michele Loreto-Chase at Ghost Executive Group wrote: “I’m really trying to understand why anyone would feel less if not in a relationship. Why is flying solo taboo? Personally, I have always felt proud to be a single woman who is empowered and strong―comfortable enough being alone without the need for a filler. My belief is that if a person is afraid or anxious about being single and alone with themselves, it’s an indication that they’re looking for someone to distract them from a little healthy introspection or worse looking for someone else to fix their life for them…To fill a void.
I think it has to do with self- acceptance, esteem, realization, love―using my time alone to learn about me, so I could arrive at a place where I could articulate exactly who it is that would compliment me best and I compliment them in the same way. I was never willing to spend time with someone who I felt wasn’t someone I wanted to spend my life with. For me, my singleness has lasted for 13 years and for the most part, I’ve been truly happy. For me, being in a temporary or bad relationship is far worse than not being in one at all. I simply haven’t found the person who I believe is my perfect other half. Do I want it? Yes. But it has taken me years to learn to love ME enough to bring to the table the very best I have to offer.”

Frankly, I blame the fifties entirely for this behavior. Well maybe not entirely, but Jesus! Look at what they were subjected to―an era of repression, propaganda and taboos, not to mention that cruel instrument of torture, the panty girdle, which were forced onto prepubescent bodies. (and we wonder why Feminists were angry) It was a scary and controlling decade, where mantras of “a perfect little lady” were drummed irrevocably into their little heads. They were terrified of ending up in the chubby section, or never being pretty enough to ever find a husband.

It was a matter of time, before shit would hit the patriarchal fan and ball-busting militant feminists would take the country by storm (justifiably after that constricting, thigh hematoma inducing chamber!)

The other thing adding fuel to the fire, was that allegedly scientific study done in the mid-eighties about the male shortage…Yeah. Remember that “male shortage?” The one that had every post-pubescent female (lucky me) severely traumatized, and indulging in Dexatrim, TAB, and Kit Kats…not to mention thongs, baby dolls and lace teddies…Enough said.

And let us not forget the creators of the trend-setting TV shows, like “thirtysomething,” “Northern Exposure,” and the like, who couldn’t help but cast their main character as some ridiculed, forlorn singleton. Of course the creators were all men…

So as we attempt to purge all these negative role models from our bruised and shaken psyches, let us return to a more empowered time―the Year of the Woman. A time when women are much farther along than we were in Steinem’s day. A time when feminism is no longer considered passé. A time when feminism has morphed itself into something much bigger and bolder (that doesn’t involve the demise of the male gender.)

We’ve come a long way in the last few generations, overcoming decades of challenges—so if we’re a bit cocky, we’re entitled… If you never would have called yourself a feminist in the past, consider it a part of your future.

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