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American women are marrying later and later, if they are even choosing the marry at all. But too many stories we hear and tell about women are about them becoming wives and mothers, and author Glynnis Macnicol decided to change that.
Despite the fact that her friends and family had always been supportive of her decision to remain unmarried, Macnicol approached her 40th year with “a lot of dread.”
“Culturally there is a lot of messaging out there that after the age of 40 if you have not acquired a partner or child, you are sort of in a no man’s land of invisibility and things will probably be horrible for you from here on out.”
Naturally, after realizing that her life was not in fact falling to shambles simply because she was 40 and single, Macnicol’s dread turned to anger. “I spent the year feeling incredibly resentful about the lack of stories we tell about women,” she explained. “(I felt) generally resentful that I had been prepared to dread this period of my life but never prepared to enjoy it.”
Now, in her novel “No One Tells You This,” Macnicol sets out to change the narrative surrounding women who choose to remain single. “We have two ideas around single women. One is that we are selfish and spoiled…and the flip side of that is, oh you’re an object of pity.”
Macnicol is living proof that this stereotype is just that — a stereotype. When her mother fell ill, she took on the responsibility for caring for her and helping her sister to take care of her children. “I do think women are tasked with care taking automatically, married or otherwise. It’s something we expect of women culturally.”
Macnicol is still optimistic that a change to how we think about single women will come in time. “The language hasn’t caught up with experience, and the stories haven’t caught up with the experiences….What we’re up against right now is coming up with the language that reflects our experience in a way that feels true.”
Check out my conversation with Macnicol above. For more conversations with women who choose to do things differently, check out Strong Opinions Loosely Held.