Considering the portrayal of single women

In the beginning of a film review, a British reviewer highlights a sociological study about how people treat and interact with single women:

Apparently, couples still shun the female singleton, fearful that she’ll wreck their marriages or at least their dinner-party numbers. One survey found that half of its sample never had single women as visitors, and 19% knew no single women at all. Casual disregard for this social group goes unremarked. Our prime minister insists that marriage must be prioritised and rewarded. The last government repeatedly identified “hard-working families” as its abiding concern. WAGs, meanwhile, are celebrated as much as manless Anistons are pitied.

In a world centred on cosily coupled units, leftover women labour under an enduring disadvantage. When they’re not ignored completely, they’re expected to provide tireless but unrecompensed support for people who matter more than them, as babysitters, carers or shoulders to cry on. When a mother is called upon to bunk off work to attend a nativity play, her unpartnered colleague is expected to take up the slack.

Cinema hasn’t done much for the benighted single woman.

The sociological study in question included 48 Australian married people. It is an interesting area of gender roles to consider; the norm in society is still to find a spouse or partner by a certain age. Cultural values and norms plus supportive public policies put pressure on people. This is particularly the case in many churches where singleness is frowned upon.

But hasn’t there been some pushback in the cultural realm on this front? Perhaps not in movies but television shows like “Cougar Town” have taken up this issue. Some of it may depend on the end goal: is the message of such films and TV shows (and books and music) that single women need to find men/husbands to be complete?

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