Wildflowers

Perfect Buds

The If-Busters

Late Bloomers

Early Bloomers

Living-Togethers

Sexual Explorers

Sexually Dissatisfied Wives

Overcoming Rejection

Why Sacrifice Pleasure?

A Way of Classifying Sexual Identity

How Pleasure-Claimers Get Better Orgasms

Some Observations from the Survey

Independent Women

"I love the life of a single woman! The dirty little secret about us is we have much better sex than married women. I was briefly married. What a mistake! Masturbation is preferable to married sex."

-a thirty-six-year-old secretary from Buffalo, New York

            To paraphrase the ubiquitous Virginia slims ad, if you want to look at how far we have not come, Baby, you need look no further than our attitudes about single women. Unmarried men are still viewed as social assets, while unmarried women, especially those over age thirty-five, are not. The self-help and psychology section of bookstores is clogged with man-hunting guides. You won't find anything in those sections telling men how to catch a woman. The basic assumption is: Women want to get married more than men do, and, therefore, men have to be coaxed, coerced, manipulated, and trapped into marriage. A single man is a bachelor whose lifestyle is acceptable, understandable, even enviable. A single woman, particularly one with little or no interest in getting married, is, after all these years, an object of concern, pity, or bewilderment to both her married and single friends.

            Society may not be as overtly sexist as it was twenty or thirty years ago, but it is covertly sexist, particularly in its attitudes toward single women. Yet, many studies show the majority of single women are happy with their lives. The prevailing media stereotype, the desperately single woman, is not the norm. "Desperate" may be a passing phase in a woman's life, one often coinciding with the sudden realization her time to conceive a child is limited, but it is not the lifetime mindset of the unwed female.

            Many single women wish their friends accepted that.

            "If you're beyond forty and never married, someone you know thinks you're a closet lesbian," says Janice, forty-three, an administrator in a government agency, who has neither married nor borne a child. "And, somebody else thinks you're frigid. The phrase, 'I'll bet she's never had a really good fuck,' has been whispered behind your back.

            "Friends and strangers are always psychoanalyzing me. If I read an article in a women's magazine about how some women fear commitment because they were sexually abused as children, I know one of my friends will read the article and try to get me to 'open up' about the abuse they're sure I've been hiding in my past. An unmarried woman is open to interpretation by everyone. It's different for married women. They can be half of the most neurotic couple you've ever met, but it's okay. They're married.

            "Most of my friends are single, five to ten years younger than I am, and some, not all, are obsessing on finding the right man. I'm past this phase. My ticking biological clock woman has quietly run down, and the silence is wonderful. For a few years in my late thirties, I panicked too. I answered personals ads, bought into the man-catching mentality as promoted in bookstores and on "Oprah." It didn't work. Part of me really didn't want it to work. I'm happy the way I am.

            "I've probably had a hundred sex partners since I lost my virginity at age sixteen. I love sex and don't regret my promiscuous days one bit. Sure, I've slowed down a lot in the past ten years. Who hasn't? I'm more cautious now. I use condoms. I wouldn't have sex with a man I met at a party like I did when I was twenty-one. There aren't as many partners at forty as there are at twenty anyway. I've had my share of nights-alone with Mr. Vibrator. But there's always someone if you really want, or need, to have someone.

            "Now I'm seeing a man who is fifteen years younger than I and of a different race. Just seeing him naked excites me. When we no longer please each other, we'll move on, with no regrets."

            Contrary to what many believe to be true of women her age, Janice is happily single and sexually active. She considers her life well-rounded, full of friends and work satisfaction, with time alone for hobbies and passions. And men.

Who Is She? 

Single (never married and not cohabiting) woman are 18.9 percent of the total survey respondents, and divorced (not remarried and not cohabiting) women are another 32.5 percent-making a total of 51.4 percent unmarried women who live alone or with roommates. Almost 75 percent of them-or almost 39 percent of total-quality as Independent Women , woman who:

  • Either never married or divorced and have not remarried.
  • Are both sexually active and satisfied with their sex lives.
  • Report satisfaction with their lives in general.

            I searched for the common threads in socioeconomic and religious backgrounds, and once again. I didn't find startling differences between the happy and not happy, but the independent women included a high number, almost half, of early bloomers. As a group, their religious training, regardless of denomination, was more often "nominal" than rigorous. Whether one is raised Catholic (22.5 percent of the total survey), Protestant (47 percent of total), or Jewish (25.6 percent of total ) seems to be less important than how rigidly the tenants of faith are applied to sexual behavior and enforced within the family.

            The independent women in this survey do report currently having more sexual activity, including masturbation, than single women in other studies generally do. In both the most recent Cosmopolitan and New Woman magazine surveys, for instance, single women were sexually active on an average of once a week. The independent women in my study report an average of intercourse twice a week and masturbation three times a week. And when they have a complaint about their sex lives, it's that they would like more.

            This is not the woman in the local supermarket known as a meeting place for singles, hovering over the salad bar until she meets the one, their hands grazing while passing over the bean sprouts. You will not hear her say, "I'm so tired of lying my head down on the pillow alone at night" over cappuccino. Chroniclers of post-AIDS society most often fail to interview her when they're doing stories on "the new single woman," because she doesn't fit their theory that women want to be part of couples or, more specifically, of those couples called "parents."

            Within the smaller group of unmarried women, the 25 percent who did report dissatisfaction with their sex therapy in particular and their lives in general, some did write poignantly of the empty pillows beside their heads or the intoxicating smell of freshly powdered babies. Of the unhappy group, 70 percent were over thirty, only 20 percent had been married, and less than 8 percent were mothers.

            But only a few of my unmarried respondents (curiously, nearly all of whom were born and raised in the South ) seemed to fit the profile of the desperately single women. one Alabama woman, the survivor of two traumatic marriages ending in bitter divorces, insists she can "only be happy as a wife." Another twice-divorced woman from South Carolina claims pleasure was not possible to be both happy and single. If only they'd made the "right" choices in men or manipulated the right men in the right way, they insist, their lives would be blissful.

            To be happily single, a woman needs a high lifestyle satisfaction quotient, and these unhappy women don't have it, but the independent woman does.

Next >>

Sexual Victims

Discarded Women

The Clock Women

Independent Women

Revirginized Women

Monogamous Women

Second-Chance Women

Surviving the Droughts

Wives Who Have Affairs

The Saboteurs of Pleasure

Conclusion: Your Sexual Turning Point?

The Women Who Doesn't "Need" an Orgasm

What Does She Know About Sex that You Don't?