“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a weekly guest column by the authors of the brilliant blog Onely. It appears every Monday. When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. Quirkyalone and Onely welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.
Why are there so many more Quirkyalone women than Quirkyalone men? –Cynthia
Let me start by saying that the Quirkyalone movement–and the singles’ advocacy movement in general–needs and wants more men. More men! More single men’s blogs! More single men commenting on blogs! More single men writing about, talking about, thinking about, and waving a banner for Quirkyaloneness. The concept of being happily single and not settling is not unique to women.
While not unique t0 women, the experience of being able to hold out for one’s dream man or woman (and being ok if that person never comes) is a relatively new experience for them. For most of this history of the human race, females were usually forced to settle. What choice did they have? They were not fully allowed into the workforce or given control over their own finances, inheritances, birth control, etc. Sometimes they even did more than settle: they connived, competed, and prostrated in order to snag a man, any man, who: wanted them; could feed and clothe them; could care for the children the woman would inevitably conceive. If the woman had luck, she married someone who refrained from abusing her out of his own moral sense, so she didn’t have to rely on the vagaries of a patriarchal law system to protect her. Renee Zellweger’s man-eating and manipulating character in the historical fiction western Appaloosa is a good example of this desperate search for protection. Toward the end of the movie she gives a tearful speech where she defends her actions, pointing out that her entire survival depends on her ability to get and keep a man.
Perhaps the large number of Quirkyalone (and Quirkytogether) women reflects a backlash (consciously or not) against this oppressive legacy. Perhaps in the collective female consciousness, or through stories passed down from generations of mothers to daughters, Quirkyalone women retain the memory of their ancestors’ frustrations and abstain from all but the most stellar relationships out of respect for those before them who didn’t have the choice to be single.
Another reason for the higher visibility of Quirkyalone women may be that they are primed, biologically and/or culturally, to reach out to other people for friendship and support, to share their feelings, and to provide and seek empathy with others. Because of this, women tend to have larger or stronger networks of friends and extended family for emotional support. This is helpful characteristic if you want to be happy in the absence of a dedicated romantic partner. What’s more, these sorts of communication skills lend themselves to participation in an advocacy community, whether at meetings or group happy hours or online blogs and listserves.
Women are used to talking about relationships. We are used to reading pop culture articles telling us how to have relationships. We are used to being told how to find and keep a man. We are therefore used to judging ourselves according to our relationship status. From that point, it’s a relatively small mental leap to say, “I have judged my single status and found it. . . not really as bad as all the magazines make it out to be.” Men, however, do not spend as much time–indeed, are not encouraged to spend as much time–thinking about relationships. So they are less likely to end up browsing the internet for “ok to be single” and stumble upon Quirkyalone.
All that said, there’s no reason more men can’t discover their inner Quirkyaloneness. In fact, it’s important to encourage men to integrate into the Quirkyalone movement, exactly because they may have a tendency not to reach out and communicate as intensely as women, leading (depending on the person) to the unhappy isolation so many people couple up to try to avoid.
We welcome comments from our readers about good sources of the male Quirkyalone voice. I know there are blogs by single male parents out there. What about single male non-parents? We’d love to hear from any male Quirkyalones or Quirkytogethers. What has the single life been like for you? For more on this topic, please see Calling All Men!.
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