Musings on Modern Gender Relations

17 Feb

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by Rhea H. Boyden

A dear friend of mine recently posted an article from the magazine ‘The Atlantic Monthly’ on my Facebook wall. It was an article by a woman by the name of Kate Bolick, and it was entitled ‘All the Single Ladies.’ In this 20-page article, Bolick spells out the modern state of gender relations in the United States. She points out very candidly exactly why there are so many single woman in America today. The increasing number of deadbeats is due in large part to the many jobs lost to men during the recession, especially in manufacturing and the auto industry. There is also an increasing number of players out there too, who refuse to commit, and there are so many single ladies for them to play around with. These two facts in particular, Bolick contends, make it a lot harder for a women wanting to get married to find an appropriate mate. Even though I live in Berlin, I believe a lot of the ideas she points out in her article about the U.S. hold true for the West in general. The article rang especially true with me, and I read it with great interest, as I saw how freakishly my life parallels that of Bolick’s.

She says that she broke up with her intelligent, loyal, kind and good looking boyfriend in the summer of 2001 right around her 28th birthday. The only reasons she cites for having done this is that ‘something was missing and she wasn’t ready to settle down’. She had been in the relationship for 3 years and wanted more from life. I did EXACTLY the same thing in the same month of the same year right around my 26th birthday. I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years because I wasn’t ready to settle down. I wanted to explore Berlin, have my freedom (including sexual freedom) meet people, have adventures, work, travel and do more things for me. He was a very good, honest and loyal man with a wonderful sense of humour. Really we were pretty compatible. He was devastated. In the week we were breaking up he tried to convince me otherwise. ‘I have a fantasy of your lovely curly hair growing down over your pregnant belly with our child inside’ he sobbed, as he pleaded with me. I was unmoved. I wanted out, and nothing was going to change my mind. Later that afternoon, I left the apartment and went to my mother’s empty apartment in Berlin. She was on holiday in Turkey with my younger sisters and her place was free so I went and slept in her bed. I left him in our apartment to give him enough time to figure out what he was going to do now that I had broken up with him. While I was riding the train to my mom’s, a man approached me with a big pink rose and handed it to me. As he did he said ‘Don’t become a nun’. I was stunned. I just sat there with the rose in hand and watched the man as he gave me a wink and exited the train. ‘Well, talk about an omen’ I thought. ‘Who WAS that guy?’ ‘And did he just pick up on my vibes, or what?’ The man had sized me up well enough: I had no intention of taking a vow of chastity, that was for sure. I spent two weeks at my mother’s and then returned to my empty apartment. My now ex had packed his bags and flown back to North Carolina where he was from. I had told him to go and he did. He had even left me our good pepper grinder, and that was the only thing he had said he wanted out of the break up. I still have it, and it works to this day. A decade later, he is now happily married with beautiful twin daughters and I am still single living in Berlin. I have had a whole string of boyfriends, lovers, dates and sexual adventures in the past decade and to recount it all would be impossible (and unwise). I regret very little of it and I am fairly happy. I do, however, still find myself single at age 36 and wondering where I will end up. I have my ups and downs. I enjoy my freedom immensely, but there are also lonely and desperate days. Days where I freak out over having to deal with every little aspect of life, the cooking, cleaning, bills, repair work, shopping and so on and so forth ALONE.

When I was 17, I lived in Ireland with my father and went to secondary school there. I had my first real boyfriend at age 17. He was 23 and I adored him. He was a local Irish guy and he had a car. None of my friends had cars back then in rural Ireland. I was not with him for the car, but it was a big plus. I was so proud to be seen with him and he really was my first love. We had a lot of fun together. It was a decent relationship and we used to go out to the pub on weekends and then he would drive me home and we would make out in his car until I snuck into my bed. We didn’t have sex until two months into the relationship, and then a month later it ended and I was in tears. The relationship lasted three months in total, but it seemed like an eternity at that age. After he and I broke up, I graduated from Secondary school and went to Berlin in the following Autumn of 1993. I was 18 and looking forward to the adventure, but also still devastated that the relationship was over. My mother showed little sympathy. ‘But you don’t want to spend your life with him in Ireland, surely’ she said. ‘You are only 18, there is so much more to discover in the big wide world. You need more experience’. At the time, I remember being shocked. I had genuinely loved him, and I had a young and broken heart. How could my mother be so dismissive about the ending of my relationship? Bolick too, recalls her teenage love life. She says her first boyfriend used to go on holidays with the family and that once, her mother had turned around to her and her boyfriend who were cuddling in the back seat of the car and had said: ‘Isn’t it time you both started seeing other people?’ I can imagine that she might have been just as surprised at this as I was when my mother showed little sympathy to my break up with my first boyfriend. And of course, our mothers are right. We would have been mad to settle down forever with the teenage boyfriend. There is so much more to experience in life and this is what we have moved on to do. I would suppose that Bolick is as thankful as I am that she has such an open-minded mother. We know as well, that there is a section of American society that highly values getting married at 18 and hopefully staying that way. (yes, THAT America, of heartlanders, conservative right wingers, beauty pagents and the military) But this is not the world we come from. Bolick states that middle class, educated American society seems to deem 30 as the ideal age for marriage, and she is not the only one who says this.

In her book, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Elizabeth Gilbert also talks about reaching the golden age of 30 and then feeling pressured to have a family. She had been married for 6 years and she and her husband were well off, owned a big house together, and were on track to have babies, but she did not want a baby. She claims she kept hoping she would feel like having a baby, but the feeling never came. She tried to convince herself it was just nerves, and of course she should want a baby, but eventually she sums it up in this funny way in her book and I totally relate to it: ‘I was trying to convince myself that my feelings (of dread) were customary despite all evidence to the contrary’ Gilbert says. ‘Such as the acquaintance I’d run into last week who’d just discovered she was pregnant’ she continues, ‘after spending a king’s ransom on fertility treatments. She was ecstatic. I saw the joy in her face and I recognised it. It was the exact same joy my own face had radiated last spring, the day the magazine I worked for was going to send me on an assignment to New Zealand to write an article about the search for a giant squid’ Gilbert goes on to say that until she felt as ecstatic about having a baby as about going to New Zealand to search for a giant squid she could not have a baby.

Of course 30 is the ideal age to have a baby when you are well-educated, want to have a career, travel, have fun and have all these adventures before you settle, but clearly, trying to force this and plan it too exactly is not the path to genuine happiness. You can only plan so much in life and people who try and overdo it on the planning, as far as I can see, are leading, in many cases, contrived lives full of lies and deceit. I really don’t know how these people can convince themselves that they will be happy if they follow society’s exact expectations and follow this strict timeline. Bolick says ‘We took for granted that we would spend our 20’s finding ourselves, whatever that meant and save marriage for after we’d finished graduate school and launched our careers, which would of course happen at the magical age of 30.’ A dear friend of mine from New York also talks about this pressure in New York to get married by 30 and a lot of her friends there have done this, and are planning pregnancies around sitting the bar exam. I listen to these stories with a mixture of horror and admiration. I do suppose some of them are happily married and doing well. I am not that cynical, but I also have a deep feeling that a lot of them are doing it out of following societal and family expectations. And I suppose many of them have just settled for someone because they were reaching the age of 30 and getting worried about being alone and felt the need to settle down. I know this because I myself found myself in a marriage track relationship at age 31 and I am glad I got out of it before I got pregnant.

I met a handsome German engineer on an online dating site when I was 31. He earned a high salary and spent a lot of money on me flying me all over the place to be with him while he was travelling on business. We got settled into a very serious relationship very fast, and I did love the man, but we had our problems. He talked about marriage and babies pretty quickly and he took for granted that I would quit my English teaching job and follow him whereever his job took him and he would pay for everything. I suppose that I had the relationship that a lot of women are looking for: a wealthy man who was willing to spend his money on me and provide for me. We had a lot of fun together and he was caring and silly, but I was living a lie. I did try and make the relationship work, really I did, but I finally realised that we were not truly compatible. In any case, I just always felt that he did not really appreciate my true merits, and that I was just an accessory for him. I had the hunch that he just wanted some pretty woman at his side, it didn’t really matter who. I am a very sensual woman and I also felt that something was really lacking in the passion department. I tried hard to improve things with him in that field too, but he was very grumpy, and seemingly had a very low sex drive. Some nights I would come out of the bathtub, hoping to make love to the man who was supposed to be my boyfriend, and find him sound asleep snoring. To say the least, I became sexually frustrated very fast. To make matters worse, the couple 2 floors up from us were having great sex and the whole courtyard could hear it. I lay in bed next to my snoring boyfriend and thought to myself’ ‘Wow, I am never going to have sex like that couple in THIS relationship’. He kept bringing me wonderful gifts back from all his exotic business trips from all over the world. I suppose he thought the material things would make up for the lack of passion and soothe my frustration. It didn’t work.

The crisis came one Sunday in February 2009 when I was 33. We had had sex that morning and it had been bad. Later that evening, I was lying in the bathtub enjoying a nice soak. He came into the bathroom and was cleaning as usual. He was very fastidious in this German house-wifely way about cleaning, dusting and ironing. It used to drive me nuts, and was a total turn off too. As he was dusting the window sill I ventured to talk to him about our epic fail in bed that morning and how I would like things to improve in the bed department. He turned to me and said grumpily: ‘Look, sex is just something I want to get done and move onto the next thing’ and he marched out of the bathroom. I held my nose, closed my eyes ,and immersed myself fully under the water and had the following thought: ’ I am dumping him, he has no idea how he just nailed the last nail in the coffin of relationship destruction’. I felt relieved. I knew exactly what I wanted and that was out of this relationship with no turning back.

I had done a lot of thinking about my relationship with him in the bathtub. It is a good place to think and read. About a month before this February bathtub crisis, I had attempted to read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ in the bathtub but I had to throw it aside after a couple chapters, because Gilbert was basically talking about exactly what I was about to do myself. Namely, end very materially rich relationship with a man who wanted kids, stabilty and family, and go in search of my own freedom. Gilbert was excited by the hunt for a squid in New Zealand, I was excited about going for a beer with a charming Scottish musician who had very little money.

A week later, I dumped my rich German engineer boyfriend and ran off with the Scottish musician. I was finally back with someone who shared my soul, ideas and moral values. I was broke, but I didn’t care. Gilbert quotes a New Yorker cartoon in her book, where one lady says to another ‘If you really want to get to know your husband, you have to divorce him’. Well, I got to know a side of my ex that I had always had a hunch was there anyway: complete and utter pettiness, and an awful judgemental manner in which he took the break up. He took absolutely no responsibility for the fact that the relationship had failed. I really do not want to talk badly of any of my exes, but this was the worst break up of my life. He acted like the biggest child. He sent me the nastiest emails saying the basest stuff to me. This only confirmed to me even more that I had made the right decision. Even two months after the split he wrote to me saying that he wanted the flavoured olive oils that we had bought in Milan. Well, what could I say? The oils were long gone at that point, obviously! I let him keep everything apart from the laptop I am writing this story with. He had hoped, I suppose, that his financial power would keep me, but it didn’t work, because I am not that kind of girl. I am fiercely proud and independent. I am good friends with, or at least on civil terms with all my ex boyfriends, but not with him, because he made it an impossibility. To lessen my guilt even more, I discovered that he found another girl on the internet two months later to replace me and they have since gotten married. Rather her than me, I say. I can’t help but wonder what kind of relationship they have. Is it a sexless marriage? Is it one where she is just happy to be an accessory? Who knows, maybe they really are compatible. He wants the traditional marriage, and I suppose that is what he has gotten. I wish them the best with it.

My life, on the other hand has been a big colourful, dramatic adventure since I dumped him 3 years ago. I have never regretted it once. Fine, I have been a little broke at times, but I have had lots of different kinds of relationships with different people and I have been free to do what I want and I have a decent job too. Do I want babies? The truth is: I don’t really know. But it has not been a priority for me at all, and at age 36 I look around me and see more and more women my age who don’t have children either. You can have a full life without children, this is becoming clearer and clearer. As Bolick says in her article: ‘Motherhood is no longer compulsory. Since 1976, the percentage of women in their early 40’s who have not given birth has nearly doubled. A childless, single woman of a certain age is no longer automatically perceived as a barren spinster’.

As women rise and rise to power and earn more money and gain more confidence we are increasingly in command of our own destinies and this should be a reason for joy and optimism for the future and not despair at being alone. I am trying to see my future in a more positive light even though I remain single. As Bolick states, we women are increasingly having to deal with men who are deadbeats with little or no job prospects and players who play the field. The good men are taken and kept under control and if they get divorced it seems they are snatched up again pretty quickly as was the case with my eligible-but-not-compatible-with-me German ex. So, striving for single happiness and independence is a necesssity these days.

I personally have had more trouble with the players than with the deadbeats. I have dated plenty of ‘deadbeat’ men. I would never say this to their faces, but I guess what this essentially means is that they would not be able to support a family and earn a good income if that is what I wanted. Regardless, some of them have treated me very well. I know plenty of underpaid struggling musicians and bohemian types in Berlin who are by no means ‘marriage material’ in the traditional sense, but they have big hearts, are fascinating people, and they enrich my life immensely.

The players are a bigger source of rage and frustation for me than any ‘deadbeat’ I have ever met. These players are men with status and high testosterone levels. It has been surmised time and time again that high testosterone levels go hand in hand with male ambition. These guys can have any girl they want and they know it. Bolick talks about how all the girls want these guys and usually they can have the guy they want- for one night. I dated the biggest narcissstic player here in Berlin and he drove me absolutely nuts. Bolick tells of a guy she dated who did not want to get involved emotionally, but was very interested in a physical relationship. Or the guy who ended things with her because he couldn’t fend off all the other offers of sex he was getting. Or the guy who claimed on a date with her that he wanted to spend his 30’s playing the field. Bolick states that the more successful a man is, the less interested he is in commitment. This leaves us girls feeling pretty upset in many cases. Indeed, it seems you can’t win as a woman when dealing with a successful man. Many successful men will have a steady girlfriend or wife, to be sure. And she may be the lucky one who has managed to keep him, but in many cases he is still dating lots of other women as well, because he can.

Here again, my experience closely parallels that of Bolick’s. My guy told me once when we were on a date that he wanted to move to New York because there he could ‘fuck around until he was 60’. Or another time when we were in bed he told me of the two 18 -year -old girls he had recently invited into his bed and while one of them lay behind him he fucked the other one.And after we had had mind-blowing sex for at least the twentieth time, he tells me that he ‘refuses to engage emotionally.’ Or when I sent him a text message thanking him for a nice date he responded with ‘Glad you enjoyed the fun.’ which of course made me feel as if he was doing me a favour. This man has inspired such rage in me that even though I have not slept with him for a year, my memories of the sex with him do not fade, as it was the best of my life. Unfortunately my feelings of rage have not quite dissipated either, and when I get drunk and emotional I still phone him up and freak out at him for treating me with such disrespect and outright misogyny.

Recently I was talking to my downstairs neighbour who is an artist and a teacher. She is is 33 and single aswell. We were enjoying a cocktail and some snacks in my kitchen and I asked her how it was going with the guy she was seeing. ‘Oh, God’ she said. ‘Bad. What is wrong with men? He keeps giving me mixed messages and he seems so confused about his own life and his own job prospects. Basically he is a coward and I don’t know what to make of it or whether he is going to dump me or what. Actually he is a pig and he treats me badly.’ This friend of mine is not the only one who complains of men being pigs. Plenty of other friends of mine are in the same boat.

In his aptly titled article ‘The Return of the Pig’ in ‘The Atlantic Monthly’ David Brooks talks about these pig-like men and how blatant sexism and chauvinism seem to be on the rise in America. More and more men are subscribing to pornography, men’s trashy sexist magazines, and watching MTV. In the 80’s MTV actually had decent music videos, now it is all babes in bikinis dancing to trashy music on the beach and rubbing themselves up against horny men.

Brooks and other progressive thinkers note with horror that numbers of these shallow men seems to be rising dramatically. He says that ‘their world has been vacuumed free of empathy, sensitivity and sophistication. It is as if millions of American men -many of them well educated- took a look at the lifestyle proscribed by modern feminism and decided, No, thanks, we’d rather be pigs’. Brooks says that many believe this to be a result of masculinity in crisis. Men are threatened by the rise of women and their ever increasing financial power, education and independence and they don’t know how to deal with it. How are we supposed to make men out of these men? I once dated another German engineer and he was also one of these kinds of guys. My dad, who IS a real man advised me to ‘make a man out of him’. It didn’t work. I dumped him too. So, as a result, millions of women who would like to get married are completely frustrated. But, must we marry at all? Why are we so fixated on marriage anyway in our culture? There are many other ways to lead life apart from being married. To quote Bolick again: ‘Our cultural fixation on the couple is actually a relatively recent development’ Indeed, in the grand scheme of things marriagelike relationships came into being at around the same time farming arose around12,000 years ago. Couples had to function to make a farm work. But, women’s power diminished at around this point too. In many other societies prior to this (and after it) women had power and authority (think Amazon).

Marriage, monogamy, and the male dominated society have been the institutions that have stripped women of power. Why then, do so many educated women with good jobs still strive towards marriage as the highest ideal? Bolick speaks of a ‘sea change’ in gender relations, a shift in people’s attitudes. Many more people are finally waking up to the fact that marriage may not be the thing we need to strive for. A recent survey in Japan, for example, showed that 61% of unmarried men aged 18-34 do not have a girlfriend, nor do half of unmarried women the same age. Many young Japanese claimed they were not even looking for partners, and a shocking quarter of Japanese men and women between ages 34 and 39 claim never to have even had sex! Many Japanese women are shunning marriage altogether, saying they deem single life to be far more fulfilling than their imagination of married life.

In her article entitled ‘Marry Him!’ Lori Gottlieb says that women who claim they are happy to be single at age 30 are kidding themselves and there is no way they could be truly be happy to be single. She puts forth the case for settling for Mister Not So Perfect. She claims that we should just lower our standards a bit if we want to get married and stop holding out for Mister Perfect, because given divorce rates, he likely doesn’t exist. Fine, if you really want to get married and that is your goal in life then read on, but she is American, and we all know how big the marriage industry is in the United States, and how much pressure there is to conform in many parts of American society. The wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and it prices, packages and pushes weddings down our throats. I have nothing against getting married, but if I ever do, I want a small, inexpensive and sacred ceremony with the chosen friends and family who I love and I certainly won’t sign up to a wedding registry and dictate to my friends what gifts they must buy me and how much money they should spend on me. Gift giving is supposed to be a sacred thing, not something that you should be told you have to do. The whole concept of bridal showers, wedding registries and baby showers seems so contrived and materialistic. The bride shouts: ‘Come celebrate me and buy me exactly what I want you to buy me’. I have heard the most ludicrous stories from New York about what brides-to-be expect their bridesmaids to do for them in the time leading up to their weddings. One thing that has become especially popular in New York in recent years are so-called ‘Botox parties’ where brides spend fortunes for themselves and all their bridesmaids to get botox before the wedding. I also once read an article about an Asian-American girl who was complaining that her friend who was getting married expected her and all her friends who were to be bridesmaids to have their boobs enlarged (Asian women typically have small breasts) for the wedding so it would look better in the wedding pics.

I have felt pressured a lot for being single and not settling, and I find it intensely annoying. I have a friend who used to live in Berlin, and at the age of 26 she fell in love with her boss.(She got the status guy for herself). They both worked and earned good money and then they got married, moved to L.A. together to earn even more money. When she was 37 she gave birth to their one and only beautiful blonde son. He is spoilt, but lovely too. She visits Berlin every year and I meet up with her for coffee. I am not so sure whether I will be bothered the next time she is in town, because some of the things she has said to me have kind of put me off her. Things like: ‘Are you STILL not settled?’ and: ‘Why do you spend so much time out at night in Berlin, don’t you want a steady boyfriend?’ and the clincher of course was ‘Once you have a baby, all these other things you have been filling your time with seem so meaningless’. I guess she doesn’t understand my life at all. I have a really full life with a wonderful array of friends of all races, ages, and sexual orientation. I have a good job and a lot of fun hobbies including my latest hobby: writing! My dad understands me and never puts me under any pressure to conform. He is very supportive of my new found passion for writing and he said recently in a very excited tone: ‘you can give birth to books!’ Yes, maybe I can. Who knows? If I had a baby now, I certainly couldn’t write anymore and that would be a tragedy.

A decade ago we were all reading ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ by Helen Fielding and laughing ourselves silly over it. And it is funny. A neurotic woman in her early 30’s desperately seeking Mister Right. She makes a note of all the things she eats every day, the number of cigarettes she smokes, and the units of alcohol she intakes. It is silly and quirky, but essentially she is still being discriminated against by her family, society, and as she calls them:the ‘smug married’ because she is not married by age 32! The entire book again pushes for marriage as the goal of a happy life.

It seems things have changed in the past decade. ‘Eat, Pray Love’ urges us to do the exact opposite! Leave our stable homes and husbands and go out and have adventure. Of course the biggest criticism of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, is that this is really only possible for women of solid middle to upper class with a good income to do. She divorces her husband and travels the world finding herself, and clearly not on a tight budget. But she can afford it. She had a great job and earned a lot of money. Good for her, but not possible for everyone by any means. Many women are stuck in unfulfilling marriages for financial reasons. The more money a woman earns, the more likely she is to leave her husband. This is true the world over. And then if you have no money at all, marriage isn’t even worth anything, as Bolick points out in her article. She looks at African-American women in her case study and she writes the following: ‘an astonishing 70 percent of black women in America are unmarried and are more than twice as likely than white women to remain that way. This is often chalked up to high incarceration rates- in 2009, of the nearly 1.5 million men in prison, 39 percent were black.’ She also goes on to cite that black women are doing a lot better financially and education wise than black men in America. Bolick interviews a group of black single mothers in a Pittsburgh suburb and they admit themselves they are a just another typical group of single black moms struggling to get by and raise their kids alone. Today, 40 percent of children are born to single mothers.

I have talked to a lot of women who claim they WANT to raise their children alone. I grew up in rural Ireland and there is a high birth rate amongst working class teenage girls there. A lot of them are girls I went to school with, and who are my good friends. Marriage is not something that was really ever discussed as an option for many of them. I probably would have ended up having a child in Ireland too as a teenager had I not been offered the chance to leave to the United States and get an education. An opportunity that was kindly offered to me by my educated, middle class American grandparents.

I studied, worked and dated in the United States for 4 years in my late teens and early 20’s and it was great. Now I have been working, dating, travelling and having fun based in Berlin for the past 12 years, and even though I am now 36, I STILL don’t feel like having a child! I have tons of good friends and a strong social network in Berlin and a very busy work and social calendar. And amazingly, even many of the couples I know here who have good, solid relationships are also delaying getting married and having children. I know a lovely couple who I go and have dinnner and play cards with occasionally. She is 36 and he is 37 and they both have great jobs and a fabulous apartment. They both keep talking about getting married and having kids, but it never happens. And I am sure they will stay together, as they are a good match. But when will they have the kid they keep saying they want? Next year? The year after?

I once dated yet ANOTHER German engineer (there are a lot of them) when I was 30 and he said to me: ‘in 10 years you have to have found a relationship that works because at that point all your friends are gone’. What he meant was, they are all married and living insular lives and not caring about the outside world. Bolick talks about ‘greedy marriages’ where a couple becomes so consumed in their own relationship that they do indeed forget the outside world.A lot of people have this fear too, that if they don’t find a mate and all their friends do, then they will find themselves ALONE. But does it have to be like this? Why couple off with just anyone out of fear? But what if this relationship does fail, or one of the two DIES? Then you find yourself more alone than any single person! Bolick also says that many single people, despite feeling a bit lonely and lacking intimacy at times, have many more friends than married people, and it’s true in many cases. She also says because they are single they put a lot more effort into maintining contact to, and visiting family and friends everywhere. I have a huge family and I visit them often. I love them dearly and they are very supportive. I know I will never truly be alone as I will always have them. I guess I am lucky. I will make one exception to this point however. The people who couple off because they don’t have any family. I do see that they feel alone and I can see why they would more desperately want the relationship. I have one friend who is living in this situation. Her mother died when she was 15, she has no contact to her father and she has one half brother whom she rarely sees. She has had a series of relationships with not the greatest of men, but then, I suppose she feels the need to have a family of some sort, so I do get her motivation, even though I could never settle for the kind of guys she picks.

You may be thinking at this point that I am incredibly complicated and picky. Well, I am quite picky, but I would settle for Mister Less Than Perfect, of course I would, but even he hasn’t come along yet. And there have been the men I really wanted to be with, but alas, they didn’t want me for very long, for whatever reasons.

Bolick says in her article that her father once pitied her for being so unlucky in love. She says she bristled at this because she did not think she had been unlucky in love despite the fact that she does not have a stable relationship She had met all kinds of interesting men over the years and had had all kinds of amazing experiences. She says that this is a certainly a form of luck.

I happen to agree with her on this, because since I broke up with my wealthy German engineer boyfriend I have also had a lot of different men in my life and they all fulfill my different needs in different ways. I suppose I would like ‘the one man’ but he doesn’t seem to be there so what can I do? There is an old joke that goes like this: ‘A woman needs a man who is good in bed, has a good job, is good with kids, is a good cook, who is cultured, and who is a good handyman. And she must also make sure none of these men ever meet each other!’

I used to just laugh at this joke, but now I respect it greatly because it has, ironically, turned out to be my life. I have a lot of different men in my life and I am proud of it. I have the occasional lover, (one who was longer term, the player whom I can’t forget). I also have the Scottish musician who was my rebound out of the stable relationship, but he has turned into one of my best friends, confidants, neighbours and colleagues and we offer each other moral and practical support constantly. I also have the guy who loves classical music and we go on dates to the Philharmonic together. (occasionally we end up in bed together too, because we both admit, we miss intimacy.) Then I have the guy who I give English lessons to in exchange for practical help with computers and household stuff. Then there are also several male of mine who both like occasionally to go to late night clubs. We have the same taste in music and we love to dance. They look after me on these late night sessions and especially when we are drinking, it’s nice to have someone to make sure you get home safely. Then there is the childhood friend who entered my life again after his 20 years of working and travelling the world. He is an amazing producer of house and dance music and he lives in Dublin. He visits me in Berlin a lot, and I go to Dublin to see him everytime I go back to Ireland to visit my family. People have started to wonder whether we are an item. ‘No’, I respond. ‘We are extremely good friends and I couldn’t imagine my life without him.’

I also have a lot of good gay friends who enrich my life immensely. Berlin has a large gay population because this is a city they feel good in and tolerated. Some of the gay men I have met here are of my closest friends and confidants and I love them dearly. Just last week, one of my gay friends posted on Facebook, Hillary Clinton’s historic speech in Geneva on gay rights which she delivered on Human Rights Day. Clinton herself has been a victim of extreme misogyny in the United States. If she were a man, she likely would be president now.

Clinton gave a powerful speech defending the rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people worldwide and how their basic human rights must be protected. My gay friends were unbelievably moved and choking up in tears while listening to her speech. She spoke loud and clear about her commitment to promoting rights for them, and I quote this powerful woman who has just gained a new found respect in my eyes. She says: ‘It is a violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay or allow those people who harm gay people to go unpunished’.

Bolick says the following: ‘Perhaps true to conservative fears, the rise of gay marriage has helped heterosexuals think more creatively about their own conventions’. Yes, there are a whole lot of us out here who think completely outside the heternormative, marriage ideal lifestyle and our ideas must be respected. It’s the oldest cliche in the book, but I must state it: ‘Be true to yourself and you can’t go wrong’. It’s a plain and simple mantra and I try and live my life by it. I have been untrue to myself and stayed with ‘Mister Less Than Perfect’ and tried to make it work, but it didn’t and it had to end. Who knows, maybe I will never find the right man, or maybe I will have to wait until I am 60. Both my mother and my aunt are now with men they knew in their teens and 20’s. My mother is now married to her high school sweetheart and living in California with him the past 3 years. She is 63. One of my aunts reunited with her old college boyfriend on Facebook and they have been dating the past 3 years in New York. The dramatic rise of networking sites, gives us the opportunity to get in touch with all kinds of people from our past. My experiences with Facebook reunions has been an incredibly mind-boggling and for the most part, very positive adventure. (Facebook has been a more positive experience for me than online dating, but I may give that another shot at some point).

I have lots of good friends in Berlin, but one of my closest friends is a wonderful young woman from New York who has been living in Scotland and now London the past few years studying at university there. We spend many hours on skype webcam, and this allows us to be ‘virtual roommates’. She comes to Berlin frequently too and stays with me. We do both talk a lot about how to form a community in the future to help stave off loneliness for all of us who are consciously choosing to take the non-conformist path in life. And our numbers are growing so I am sure we are in good company. What is a possibly pensionless generation supposed to do? She recently posted an article on my Facebook wall about an apartment block here in Berlin where everyone lives their separate lives in their apartments, but they also have a communal living room and are slowly buying the building together. We all know how hard communal living can be. I am 36 and I have lived in my own rented apartment for years. I certainly don’t want to go back to college style crazy communal living where I have to wake up in the morning and get in a bad mood because somebody has drunk the rest of my milk for my coffee. Neither do I want to have to write my name in thick black ink on the things that belong to me in the fridge. But I would be open to forming closer community life with even more singles in my neighbourhood and in fact I am already doing it. But, I would like more of it. Bolick also says in her article that as soon as an apartment opened up in her building in Brooklyn heights, she urged another single girlfriend of hers to move in. They can now be close to each other without living college roommate style. She says that they take in each other’s mail when the other is away and bring each other oranges, medicines, love and support when they are sick. I have a very similar network in place and it’s wonderful and I dearly hope to increase it in the future.

Bolick goes on to talk about the possibilities of communal living. She discovered a woman on Facebook by the name of Ellen (which is also my mother’s name) who was living in the Begijnhof in Amsterdam. Bolick describes this as an ‘iconic bastion of single sex living’. ‘The Begijnhof’ she writes, ‘was founded in the mid twelfth century as a religious, all female collective devoted to taking care of the sick. The women were not nuns, but nor were they married, and they were free to cancel their vows and leave at any time’. Bolick interviewed this woman and it was clear that living here is a very popular thing to do for single aging women to this day. Forming healthy collective ways of living is definitely something that will see a rise in popularity in the future as the number of single women increases.

So, instead of moaning about being single and being worried about being lonely, I am trying very hard to change my attitude towards my life. Being single is actually pretty cool and trendy these days, and I sometimes actually really consider myself lucky to be single, especially when I see the kind of relationships some people have settled for. The word ‘spinster’ is a joke at this point and we do not have to be worried about being labled that anymore. I realise how very lucky and blessed I am and that actually I live in a very good era wihich offers all kinds of possibilities for single women. Single women sure had it a lot harder in the past in times when there was a shortage of marriageable men. Look at any time following major wars when thousands of men were killed off. Like right after the American Civil War for example. The 1870’s was not a great time to be a single woman and somehow those women survived too!

So, I am writing this article in December 2011 as I prepare for Christmas celebrations. I have a large family who are spread across Ireland and the United States and I usually spend a wonderful Christmas with them. My dad is a great cook and I sometimes go back to him, my stepmom, and some of my siblings for Christmas. My aunt is also a fantastic cook, and sometimes she and my other aunt (who are both childless too) and I go to North Carolina where my grandparents live. This year however, I have decided to stay in Berlin and host Christmas dinner. I am a passionate cook myself and I have been writing my own cookbook these past 6 months. There will be 8 of us for Christmas dinner and I can’t wait! My Christmas party will consist of the following: 2 gay guys, 4 single ladies in their 30’s (including me) and one married couple. A dear friend of mine who is exactly 30 (that golden age for getting married and pregnant) IS newly married and heavily pregnant! But she is one of the few people in my group of friends who just happened to find all this right at the age of 30 without forcing it or it being contrived; and in the New Year we look forward to welcoming her daughter into this wild new world. What kind of a world will SHE be living in when she reaches dating age? And so to conclude, I remain very hopeful and optimistic for the future. I see that there are many possibilites for me in the future and I plan on looking into them all. Ultimately, I want to be true to myself and all the wonderful people I love and the people who make my life special, and I hope we can all form communities to love and support each other and find solutions for everybody as we all grow older.

Facebook Feedback:

  • Rhea Boyden I just finished writing this article. Any feedback or criticism welcome!
  • Rhea Boyden (the title, as you see is the hardest part and I haven’t figured it out yet)
  • Samuel Dylan Clayton reading it now. its very honest, and clear, and has a message that i think many relate to.
  • Rhea Boyden Wow, thanks Sam, you got onto it fast!
  • Samuel Dylan Clayton well i’m procrastinating my own writing. but its a worthwhile break.
  • Rhea Boyden I write in spurts too. You can’t force it! This is the first piece I have actually finished in awhile. I have a LOT in progress!
  • Hannah Dare Very very well done Rhea, love it. Reminds me of being in uni…happy days, thanks for the reminder!!Shared with my sis Aoife who is also a good writer. Looking forward to your cookbook too!!xxxx
  • Rhea Boyden Thanks Hannah! I am thankful for the feeback! It has a positive ending!
  • Hannah Dare Just read that!!! Couldn’t leave it! Really well done, for being so honest, and open. Hats off.
  • Neil Collins Yes, I agree fully with the last comment. I started reading this Rhea and couldn’t stop. I can’t really say why, something very readable in your writing. It kind of flows and rambles at the same time in a very entertaining way. I mean this as an absolute compliment.
  • Andrea Ryan this is definitely publish material, you really write well rhea
  • Rachel von Hindman Impressive! I had to skim part of it, as it’s time for bed, but I’ll go back and read it in more depth when I get a chance. I love your mix of personal anecdotes and political opinion and gender theory, etc.
  • Claire Lambe Great work Rhea, and well and thoughtfully shaped and written. There is so much here I almost wish you had published it in serial form so as to comment on all of your points, but I’ll comment on a few anyway. 

    Re your friend who married her boss and visits her judgment on you once a year (the ghost of Christmas past, present and future all rolled into one): what she says about extraneous things becoming meaningless after having babies is, in fact, not untrue, but it is a temporary state and, I think, biologically necessary as small children are so demanding, but as temporary as the smallness of the child. A lot of women forget that or are unaware of it in the first place and make it a permanent state – then when their children turn away from them towards their own lives and destinies, they are often hurt and bereft. So do go out with this person one last time and be HER Christmas future – tell her how happy you are for her present state, how you understand why she must subsume herself in the role of mother, but warn her that, unless she goes on to have a child every year and eventually give herself over to minding grandchildren, her little boy will grow up and one day sooner than she can imagine, she will once again be childless. So she ought not to forget to nurture her own self, to keep her own interests outside of her child and home alive even if only to avoid becoming an overbearing mum, a boring wife and, last but not least, a former friend. 

    I like that one of your references – Bolick? Wish she’d change her name though – made the point that having children is something that women can forego if they so choose. When I think of all the times I’ve heard people who chose not to have children described as selfish – I always thought that surely the selfish thing was to have children. But if one felt a need to play a role in raising the next generation, there are lots of ways of “having” children without physically producing them out of one’s own body (which is painful) including becoming a support to a good friend, especially if she is a single mum – I met a woman when Zoe was tiny who really helped me to be a successful single parent – Miranda is still my best friend today and, I know, remains an important figure in Zoe’s life. Also simply volunteering at an after-school program for needy kids, helping with homework and becoming that adult who takes a real interest – that’s huge. 

    Perhaps it is true that a lot of guys today are feeling inadequate and we women can’t fix that – it is a man’s problem to solve. However, if having a man in one’s life and/or having a child became important, perhaps working with one of those sweet deadbeats could work, but that may mean letting go of one’s own conditioning and the expectation of being supported – it might mean letting go of being the primary care-giver too. But, first and foremost, it has to be discovered if this man of little means is likely to be a good Dad – someone who will continue to be available to his children even if the relationship fails – a deadbeat Dad who ignores and abandons his kids is worse than a dead Dad (I learned this from my daughter Zoe who is studying art therapy with an emphasis on children and it makes sense – the fatherless child knows that their dead Dad, in most cases, didn’t choose death over parenthood after all). However, no woman wants to be breadwinner and find that they are also the sole housekeeper and 90% responsible for childcare too + have the added expense of supporting a 6 foot, 160 lb infant. So if the guy with no ambition for work also has no ambition for creating a nice home life, he has to be left in the dust – but hopefully one can discover that before getting in too deep, i.e: having a child together. 

    Re the case of the long relationship that fails on marriage – is that possibly because it was already shaky? Often people, in an effort to avoid what is staring them in the face, rush to the next level only to find that they can’t outrun a crashing relationship. It is a shame when that next level is pregnancy.

    Having written the above and thinking of “The Return of the Pig”, I am also sad and wonder how the mothers of sons must feel. Then again, I have to ask myself and you – who and whose are these young men today? Surely they are the sons of feminism, the sons of the 60s generation? How did we come to grow these strong, independent women and fail to prepare our sons for them (BTW, I am writing as the mother of daughters – just thought I’d stick that in there…  But, seriously.

    Lastly, the community of women: I think this is such a wonderful idea. It is something I have discussed with women before as even us married ones have a good chance of being alone again since, statistically, we live longer. At the same time, it occurs to me that if there are all these single women out there, doesn’t that mean a high instance of single men too? Are they – especially the players – hoping to snare a lovely young thing to take care of them in their old ages? Some will but others will probably hear the legend “In your dreams you dirty old sod.”

  • Claire Lambe PS: am going to suggest this to Zoe – also a 30 something and single.
  • Samuel Dylan Clayton reah i was thinking as i was reading it that it is really a personal essay. i’ll have to let you borrow that anthology of mine. there is something similar to the essays in it, in the way you bring people into your private world, and at the same time you are presenting a history in the hope of making a point, of saying something about life.
  • Tanya Miri Browne very well written and researched ! i found this an inspirational piece of work ! you certainly have a gift for getting your thoughts and logic accross
  • Rhea Boyden Thank you so much to everyone for taking the time to read and for the feedback. It means a lot to me!
  • Laura Mac Carthy Brilliant Rhea, read the original article a few weeks ago.. but your Honest,clear and true writing encapsulates the true suitation of single modern women perfectly..Inspiring and enlightening..x x
  • Rhea Boyden thanks for the feedback Laura!
  • Rhea Boyden Interesting to note the the people who have given me the most posititve feedback so far are my girlfriends and my amazing gay friends! I have gotten some private messages from my male heterosexual friends who are not as impressed. I give every ‘deadbeat’ guy a chance! And I honour the men who earn little money too. This point is not to be missed, by the way!
  • Helena Chadderton Fascinating Rhea, and has filled in a few gaps in your life for me! Like others here, I appreciate the fact that you researched your subject well and incorporated others’ ideas into your own work. I love you for your open-mindedness and passion. You sum up the social pressures we suffer from perfectly. I can’t help thinking it would help us all not to see the divisions between men and women so starkly though. x
  • Lorna Riorden Good points made! Makes me feel a bit better about being single! But anyway I agree that there’s nothing better neccessarily than being in a partner relationship than being alone…Both are valuable learning experiences, but for sure our society emphasises being in a relationship…THere is much to learn about being alone…especially about our fear of being alone…what are we so afraid of anyway? Being with ourselves?
  • Phill Marshall Hi Rhea, seems like you got a touch of early mid age cri’sis, dont worry, in ten years it’le all feel diff’erent. Great writing!
  • Laura Kinsella Really enjoyed this Rhea- well done! It’s so interesting, whilst millions of women are unhappy because they want to get married; undoubtedly there are millions of women (and men) who are married and still unhappy. I reckon society’s empty promise of completeness from marriage has disappointed and disillusioned many. (It’s also worth noting that weddings are a massive commercial industry, ‘the dream’ is packaged, priced and forced down our throats)
    I think it’s really interesting what you say about collective living, relationships are important for happiness but the traditional prescriptions often don’t fit contemporary life. It feels like there is a repositioning of roles going on, which is wonderful but ambiguous. More honesty is needed and that’s why you’re writing is so valuable.
  • Rhea Boyden Thanks for the feedback, Laura! And you are very right about weddings being a huge industry. I actually wanted to talk about that too. Especially in the U.S. where people spend thousands on them and so many of them are hugely contrived. I hope you are well! Love to you.
  • Laura Kinsella Love to you too Rhea! I’m just back on fb temporarilly as Ive a kidney infection and am at home and bored. I really love your work. Keep writing and posting- really think you should start a blog, its a great way to get feedback and if you want to get published and already have a group of followers it would really stand to you, id say magazines etc would be really interested in it too. X x x
  • Bernadette Landy-Lovatt · 6 mutual friends

    Hey, Rhea, as far as a title goes, I think you should call it: Memoir of a Lioness… Actually, you raise a conundrum I’ve lived through myself, the consequence of which has proved to me that the problem with modern women, who can satisfy all their ‘wants and needs’ leads mostly to lonliness and sorrow. I fell victim to satisfying my own needs early in the game and since I’m way older than you, I can only recommend a lesser degree of self-concern and a greater degree of acceptance of others. Also, as a mother, may I recommend the joy of giving birth and the eternal joy of blood relations. There are not too many older single women who convince me that their lot was worth it! Just call me old-fashioned, but the idea of a commune of older single women sounds nothing short of scarey! Use your body for what it was meant to do, use your breasts for what they were meant to do, and use your apron strings to guide the ones you love. Bx
  • Rhea Boyden thanks for the feedback Bernie, fact is though, I would have a child if it worked out. In case that isn’t clear in this writing, it hasn’t worked out for me, the men I want chilren with want them with me and the men who want them with me I dont want them with at all! It’s the story of my life and very frustrating!
  • Bernadette Landy-Lovatt · 6 mutual friends

    That’s you being too fussy! There is no perfect in this world. Lesson number one.
  • Bernadette Landy-Lovatt · 6 mutual friends

    Most of us were accidents. Lesson number two.
  • Rhea Boyden I do not think I am too fussy actually! I really could not have a child with the men who have wanted it with me. Every feeling went against it.
  • Rhea Boyden (your son, by the way was not impressed with this piece at all, but he took the time to read it!)
  • Bernadette Landy-Lovatt · 6 mutual friends

    Men don’t want to read all about women’s thoughts and moanings. They have their own moaning to do!
  • Rhea Boyden yeah, and I love Mike!, but he is very grumpy, but I praise him in my article as you see!  xx
  • Bernadette Landy-Lovatt · 6 mutual friends

    It was too long for me to read on screen… I scanned the half of it but got the gist. Mike is impossible too. You young(er) folk should be hung out to dry :- )
  • Rhea Boyden You are just as grumpy as Mike! The article ends very positively if you take the time to read it!

  • Rhea Boyden P.S. Bernie: I had no idea you were so fervently anti-feminist. I’m schocked. And I totally disagreee with you, that I should ‘use my body and breasts for what they were made for’ Not every woman should have chilren by any means!

  • Rhea Boyden children* my ‘d’ key isn’t working properly!
  • Margie Johnson Ware Thank you for sharing this….as another comment said, it fills in some gaps. I’m sorry we can’t sit and have wine/beer and talk about it all evening.
  • Adrian Sanders Very interesting. In spent 2 years living in a 16 man/women/child WG in Hamburg where the building did belong to us and it really does work.
  • Claire Lambe @Bernadette – every choice has its pros and cons but the one thing young women today don’t have to be is a slave to their gender. As for women living together: my mother and most of her female friends were married all of their adult lives – but for the last 15 to 30 years of their lives, they were single again. They were each other’s support group but I think if they had found a way to pool resources – possibly in some kind of community apartment complex or co-housing community – things would have been a lot easier and less lonely. Here is a co-housing community near where I live:http://www.cantinesislandcohousing.org/

    www.cantinesislandcohousing.org

    Send questions and comments to: mcompain@hvc.rr.com or to Cantine’s Island Home Owners Association, Saugerties, NY 12477
  • Chantal Ailsby What an unfortunate second name that woman has! Especially considering her subject…  An interesting read Rhea. Certainly makes you think about conforming to society’s expectations and the stress of being single. I guess we all want to feel like we belong somewhere whether that means following the other sheep (marriage and children) or creating your own gang. Have a great Christmas and see you hopefully in a week or so for a few drinks! xx
  • Rhea Boyden @Chantal: yes, her name is unfortunate, but what can you do? She should get married and change it! lol!
  • Cathleen Camouflage I can follow your train of thoughts easily but I think less reference to the articles and books you read about this topic would give your article much more uniqueness and less review-style.  Just my POV. I can see that you really did a lot of research on this.
  • Rhea Boyden @Cathleen, there is quite enough of my personal life in this article, I think. My experiences are supposed to be backed up by research and statistics and compared to them That was the whole point.
  • Amelia Boyden havent gotton the whole thing finished but so far its pretty dame good!!!
  • Claire Lambe @Cathleen: What makes the article interesting, serious and, indeed, worthwhile, is precisely because it is referencing other thinkers and combining the author’s two cents worth from her own personal experience. Otherwise it might have been in danger of sounding like a long rant from one disgruntled female as opposed to a gathering together of experiences which can then, legitimately, ask the larger questions.
  • Aisha Tanner loved it ,i was in stitches you’re a natural ….cant wait to read the rest of your books! x
  • Rhea Boyden Just to hit’ like’ on your comments here would be an absolute understatement. Very beautifully expressed and well said Cordelia! Bravo! Thanks for the feedback sis! And yeah, ha ha, when I think about you turning 30 next year, how old does that make me? You are my kid sister! ha ha! xxxxx I love how you quote raw energy moving us forward and our ages being irrelevant.
  • Rhea Boyden I really want to edit this article. There is a lot more I want to add. I was going to talk about the sometimes empty promise and huge price of white weddings, and you and Laura make very valid points on that!
  • Rhea Boyden actually Cordelia you crack me up! I love what you wrote here. Very good espcially: ‘Being the bastard child that I am and coming from a family with one mum, 5 kids and 3 dads…..not to mention the countless boyfriends that always seemed to be floating around I never believed in marriage anyway. What’s the point? Do we really need the government to approve our relationships to believe that our love is real?’ Well, yes, I failed to mention enough about my background to provide some insight as to why I may be the way I am and have these conventional views!
  • Rhea Boyden sorry UNconventional views***** !!!!!!
  • Anke Illiger TX for the true comment! It is me too..still the loneley woman with a big heart, who needs freedom… Cosmopolitan! I`ll pay the next round for us
  • Michael Tanner Very nicely written, longest post I have seen here, not that length is so important, allegedly. As you quote,;Be true to yourself’ is the key. It does also appear that there is a move to more communal living, which I expect to take many forms, as we need the extra support to survive. Blessings
  • Rhea Boyden Another note on weddings: a friend of mine from New York mentioned recently how annoying she found (yet again at yet another wedding) the throwing of the bouquet to all the single girls out there. It is yet another way for the bride to say: ‘See how lucky I am, hopefully one of you lucky, poor sods out there will catch my bouquet on my special day and you just may get lucky one of these days. I actually caught the bouquet at a wedding once and I am still unmarried! ha ha! A good point though, it is a very degrading and smug act at a wedding!
  • Michael Tanner As with all superstitions it is possible to see them in many lights. By giving away a token to an eager/anxious single they may find some extra confidence or support. If you do not agree with it there is no need to take part. I do have a naughty side which came up with the possibility that you are annoyed that it did not work for you!! (Joke) I do not see it as being degrading, what is degrading is selling yourself short and not holding true to your standards/self in order to join the club.
  • Rhea Boyden @ Mike: good point: it is all about mutual support! ha ha!
  • Adam Bliss “So, instead of moaning about being single and being worried about being lonely, I am trying very hard to change my attitude towards my life. Being single is actually pretty cool and trendy these days…”

    Fantastic!

  • Rachel von Hindman Thanks to Adam Bliss re-posting this, I finally went back and finished reading it… getting sick while living alone was a new experience for me, and it was awful! Must get that network in place…
  • Rhea Boyden Thanks Rachel! Hope you are feeling better. Wanna party????? I love you, babe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Rhea Boyden p.s. I have lived alone for years!!!!
  • Rhea Boyden (some sort of stupid idea of mine that I thought would lead to ‘happiness’ and ‘indepenence’) …. blaaaaahhhh!!!!!
  • Rhea Boyden This is what my dad wrote and aske me to post: Rhea,

    What can I say? It is just a beautiful, honest, joyful, resourceful piece of writing.

    Clear, succinct; developing ideas in a structured manner towards a satisfying conclusion, quoting sources and statistics where relevant, building, building a compelling story. Magnifico!

    When I finished it I just wept. Wept with joy, with compassion, with empathy, with identification, with astonishment, at an extremely well expressed exposition on human (and woman) “condition”.

    Rhea, you are absolutely gifted at writing compelling essays, whether they involve cooking or relationship or………………? Stay the course, develop this, it’s well worth your pursuing.

    This isn’t the time for me to inquire (in this moment of absolute admiration and reverie about this document)…but do you want some editorial input?

    Can’t help this: Ignore the spelling mistakes for now; but do eliminate any use of the word “absolutely”.

    Because it’s absolutely redundant!

    Yr a star that shines brightly. Stay at it.

    Love,

    Dad

  • Rhea Boyden ha ha! This article is crazy: ‘A huge report was issued by the National Center for Health Statistics. It covered the topic of teenage oral sex more extensively than any previous study, and the news was devastating: A quarter of girls aged fifteen had engaged in it, and more than half aged seventeen. Obviously, there was no previous data to compare this with, but millions of suburban dads were quite adamant that they had been born too soon.’ – How nice girls became comfortable with oral sex’- Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic Monthly
  • Sandra Wochele brilliant. May I share the article?
  • Rhea Boyden Here is another anecdote I intended to include in this article regarding New York. When my high status high testosterone player sex god guy told me he wanted to move to New York because there he could ‘fuck around til he was 60’ he clearly knew what he was talking about and how many available women there are in NY. I have a beautiful Belgian friend who moved to New York about 5 years ago with her good looking and succesful German boyfriend. They are a beautiful, picture perfect couple and they both got good jobs at the U.N. When I was in New York about a year after they moved there I went to the U.N building and had lunch with them and a tour of the U.N. They certainly did seem to be having a great life there. Atfer lunch however, she and I went for a walk and she confided in me with desperation that EVERY time they went out in New York to any club, there were literally girls all over her boyfriend flirtiing with him and shamelessly trying to snatch him away right in front of her. HE was clearly enjoying all the female attention! I haven’t seen or spoken to them in a few years now, but I wonder of there relationship is still in tact.
  • Rhea Boyden I am aware that maybe some people think I am going a little overboard on how hard it is for women, but I am speaking from experience. Men do have more choice and more time, there is no denying that fact. I am painfully aware at age 36 how my male peer group have their eyes on women at least 6 years younger than me. This shift just started happening in the last year or so and I find it terrifying. I do see the numbers of eligible men dwindling before my eyes right as I am getting more hormonal and my biological clock is ticking ever louder. It’s really not a nice feeling at all. And I expect this feeling to get worse in the next years…..
  • Rhea Boyden this article pretty much sums hp how I feel:http://www.theatlantic.com/…/in-search-of-mr-right/6587/

    www.theatlantic.com

    Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, the author of Why There Are No Good Men Left, discusse…See more
  • Rhea Boyden Oh and I had a heated argument with one of my male friends recently about this and he said: ‘The Atlantic Monthly is all a bunch of propaganda, you shouldn’t read it, it’s crap’. and I replied: ‘Oh really?, well, how come I can relate extremely well to the articles they write on relationships then and how painfully they ring true with me?’
  • Carolyn Turgeon I finally sat down to read this… wonderful, Rhea!!!
  • Rhea Boyden http://www.nytimes.com/…/marriage-suits-educated-women…

    www.nytimes.com

    For women seeking a satisfying relationship and a secure economic future, there has never been a better time to be or become highly educated.
  • Tree Lewis so true Rhea.I particulary love the bit about your “german houswife” boyfriend,my last boyfriend was the exact same and it drove me nuts!
  • Rhea Boyden

198281

One Response to “Musings on Modern Gender Relations”

  1. Yasser Hassan February 12, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Brilliant!

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