2008-01-08

Single Gals

Since I admitted that I'd lost my beloved cat, I've been let in to the Magical World of Domestic Women.

It took the loss of my cat for me to be viewed as a woman with a life and a home, for some people to see me as a female adult rather than as a kid in a cubicle, waiting for her prince to come.
.
Most of the time, I feel like I am assumed to be a Single Gal.
I've sort of resent this because:
A. I don't particularly want to be single;
B. There is a value attached to being a Single Gal that implies I have no domestic responsibilities except for crafting with my friends. I run a house and I am pretty domestic even though I have no ability to acquire or arrange furniture. My laundry doesn't do itself just because I am a Single Gal.
C. Finally, being a Single Gal implies I am waiting on something, biding my time in limbo and focusing on the brass ring of a husband and babies. My limbo is great but it's a lot more eccentric than waiting for a man and an infant, trust me.

In a world where we have to shower the women who are getting married and the women who are having babies, Single Gals don't get a whole lot of domestic attention, unless she happens to buy a house and have a house-warming party or unless she loses a pet.

People don't decorate cubicles for women who buy houses.
There is no potluck celebration in the boardroom, no cake, and no balloons taped to her chair for her escrow.
Even if it's a first home, there is more excitement when a young couple buys their first home than there is when a Single Gal builds a home and decorates it in bright trendy colors. I have seen this play out although the Single Gal I am talking about has since sold her place and moved. She is still single.

Domestic street cred is really only given in the face of babies, weddings, and the loss of cats.
There are two things on that list that a Single Gal is unlikely to have ergo her domestic aptitude as a woman is measured by her pets.
And the jump to Crazy Cat Lady is suddenly not so wide, is it?

I think that most people in smaller cities and towns assume that Single Gals either have lives like the cover of a chick lit novel, all pastel and fancy-stilettoed.
Otherwise, they assume there is a bleak, white-walled home life that's sort of lonely and sad, brightened only by a cat and the snowflake-print flannel pjs that she got from her mom.
Or Target.

Bridget Jones' Diary, the original, probably captured singe womanhood best. The details were exaggerated but the underlying fact I like in that book is that a single woman is at least as obligated to her life as any mother or wife is obligated to hers. Dubbing the life of a single woman frivolous and flip is your problem, not hers.

Things have changed a little, post-Bridget Jones: Rather than being judged out loud, the domestic affairs of Single Gals are quietly assumed and ignored until a pet or a parent dies.

To this day, I firmly believe that this because, in part that there are plenty of people who do not want to know about the life events of a single woman. Those events are believed to be potentially dirty and illicit or they are downright boring. Although attitudes are improving and stereotypes are falling away, women are still generally viewed as incomplete unless partnered and/or mothering.

I have to emphasize that I am an optimist and I really do recognize that this is improving with the wider acceptance of lesbian partnerships and with a small but stirring anti-child movement. This is a nod to all of the people who are choosing to not have children and who are insistent that there have got to be some places in the world where children are not allowed, like fancy restaurants and movies rated R. It's not about not liking children, it's about not needing them and not wanting to be forced to accommodate them.

But I digress.

Since Single Gals don't have the same rites of passage from Girl to Woman hence "Gal", there are very few celebrations of her own save her birthday. And this is sort of a cruel, cruel twist of a cold knife to women like me who are open with their issues about aging. I do not care aging. I loathe it. Lecturing me will make it worse so..... just leave it alone for now. Suffice it to say that the birthday cake is the only one in my life that I do not make or order and it's the only time there are flowers unless I gets them as a thank-you from a client or pick them up at Trader Joe's on a Friday evening.
And the birthday celebration?
It's a little melancholy for a lot of people, not just women.

Anyway, my point is that until I lost my pet and told people at work that I'd lost my pet, I was constantly defending my domesticity.
"Well, you donít have to worry about dinner on the table."
I have to eat.
"I never am caught up on laundry!"
The clothes I am wearing are dirty and I could always wash a blanket or dog bedding.
"I just don't have enough time in a weekend."
Wanna wager? I have a lot of friends, you know. They like to do stuff with me. And plus I count sleeping in as something I HAVE to do.

For the record, I don't begrudge my friends their babies and their weddings. I get that these things ARE huge and that they don't have to have a value assigned to them. They would be huge for a man or for a woman.
But men don't have baby showers or wedding showers and they don't have to endure the Single Gal nomer - they don't have to live up to being fun, boozy, irresponsible girlfrennns or worse, prudish, lonely cat owners.

While I love my life, I wish it was more obvious to the world that my homelife has the same amount of obligation and value that a wife or a mother's has.
And I wish that was the way it would be all the time, not just in the wake of the loss of a dear, dear pet.

arizonasarah at 2:07 p.m.

previous | next