Life

A woman doesn’t need a husband in her best years

From the 1920s to the 1950s, among young people, early marriage into family life was still the dominant practice. The average age of first marriage for men even dropped by two years (from 24.6 to 22.8 years), while for women It dropped by one year (from 21.2 to 20.3 years). But at the same time, in the metropolises of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, a whole new kind of modern and independent single life was sprouting. These liberators, who called themselves the “New Women,” were at the forefront of social change.
“Single women are transforming into the most attractive women of this era…their charm is that they rely on their own intelligence to survive and be self-sufficient. In order to survive in this competitive world, they constantly sharpen their psychology and personality , until it shines, these trials are as beautiful and attractive as the results. Economically, they are more full of dreamy charm, they are not parasites, dependents, they are not as humble as beggars or tramps, they are devotees and Not takers, they are winners not losers.”
In 1962, a forty-year-old Helen Gurley Brown wrote these words in her thin, provocative bestseller Sex and the Single Woman. Helen Gurley Brown, who has served in the editorial department of “Vogue” for more than 30 years, came from a humble background. She was born in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. After losing her father at the age of ten, she moved to Los Angeles with her mother. With a poor family and her younger sister suffering from polio, she had to support the whole family. Based on her own experience, she began to appreciate the professional women of her generation, their hard work and dreams of success. She went to a small business academy, took a clerical job at a talent agency, and then worked as a secretary in advertising. She rose through the ranks of the advertising industry, eventually becoming one of the industry’s most accomplished copywriters and branching out into journalism.
Sex and the Single Girl was published a year before Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, a feminist book that shocked and alienated most feminists because it contained no protest or Fight what Friedan has dubbed “the nameless problem” — gender inequality in the family, in the courts, in politics, and in the workplace because of discrimination.

Brown’s book is written for women who live and fret about the intense societal pressure to marry early and settle down, years of growing up, finding out, and having fun before getting a paper marriage certificate to formally enter family life life, and therefore think that marriage may not be the result they want. Brown said in the book: “A woman does not need a husband in her best years. The biggest trouble for a single woman is precisely-how to solve the troubles caused by men who are eager to marry her!” She also wrote : “Marriage is a security in a woman’s worst years.” Brown’s book doesn’t tell women how to get married;
Written by Ti Friedan, it is generally regarded as one of the most influential books of the 20th century, revealing the living conditions of American women at that time (1950s and 1960s) and the “unnamed” spiritual problems prevalent in them , the book is seen as a document that marks the emergence of a new wave of feminist self-awareness, triggering a second wave of feminist movements.
In “Sex and the Single Woman,” Brown uses herself as the book’s first example, telling the story of her late marriage: She didn’t marry her bright, charming, film-business husband until she was thirty-seven, and Lived in a mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean with two Mercedes parked in the driveway. Brown also acknowledged that maintaining women’s autonomy has not been easy for her. In her twenties and even thirties, she watched as women her age entered into marriages and committed themselves to men with obvious flaws. She said: “Although many times, I have been convinced that I will end up alone, but I have never considered marriage for the sake of marriage.” On the career path, she has formed a unique personal aggressive style, and she is willing to enter The public eye is in the spotlight. Brown believes that to do this, you don’t need to be a stunning beauty, have a lot of wealth, or a strong personality, you just need to have a little fearless courage, firm belief, and the fortitude to face life alone.
When Brown says “living alone” he doesn’t mean alone. The roommates, she insisted, belonged to the girls in the sorority. What single women need is an apartment all to themselves, even if it’s just a room above the garage. “The benefits of living alone are numerous, giving a single woman time and space alone to avoid social pressure from family and friends and to fully develop herself. She can work late into the night without worrying about what other people think, she can Having time to read to enrich her inner self, she can observe herself and introspect to change her external image. Most importantly, her privacy is guaranteed and she can experience a life of adventure and lust more freely.” (Though no investigation According to), Brown claimed: “The quality of a single woman’s sex life is usually much better than her married female friends, because she does not have to be bored with the same person forever, she has many male suitors, and has unlimited Mate choice.”
Women’s studies scholar Sharon Marcus has written: “In the 1960s, private apartments became a powerful symbol of a new urban culture, providing a stage for single women—a more sexually liberated one. a stage where they unleash their creativity and sell their creative ways of living and having fun to others.”
However, very few single women have retained the stage of private apartments for long. After all, Brown has never seen living alone as a means of subverting marriages, she just sees it as a way to improve marriages. She advises women: “If you choose the path of marriage in the end, a single life will also help to build a better marriage foundation.” Faced with the unfortunate situation of being married and going back to being alone, after all “a man is as likely to leave his wife at fifty (although it may cost him dearly) as a woman is to leave her dirty dishes behind. Same in the sink.”
In fact, at the same time that Brown published Desire and the Single Woman, another emerging cultural movement was urging men to adopt the same lifestyle, overturning marriage and the family and enjoying a new bachelor life. “Playboy” magazine is one of the manifestations of this cultural movement. The editor-in-chief of the magazine, Hugh Hefner, is its iconic leader. The long-eared rabbit he created has become the brand-new The endorsement totem of male lifestyle. Hefner once said: “I don’t want my editors to marry and have a lot of stupid ideas because of marriage, and start nagging on topics such as intimacy, home, family.” In fact, his Magazines also do everything in their power to discourage readers from even thinking about marriage.

Playboy magazine denounced traditional family life and embraced a new, male “family” way of life. Bill Osgerby once wrote in the “Design History” magazine: Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, “Playboy” attracted people’s attention to a series of luxurious “Playboy sanctuaries”, including both There are real buildings and fantasy blueprints, all of which satisfy fashionable people’s dreams of town life without exception.
In A Man’s Heart, Barbara Ellreich identifies the ideological projection of Playboy magazine as “remaking the family as the pleasure kingdom of men.” The magazine categorically screams to all its readers: when you open the magazine, everyone should leave behind their suburban home, your station wagon, your controlling wife, and return to the great city life! Find one of your own Residence, fill it with modern luxuries: fine wine, modern art, stylish clothing, leather furniture, high-end stereo, and a king-size bed, and above all the good things – beautiful single girls.
The Playboy mansion opened its doors to women, especially the ones celebrated in the magazines—the fun-loving, marriageable, open-minded girls. Hefner was surrounded by Bunny Girls, first in his Chicago apartment and eventually in his famous Los Angeles mansion, and he often had several lovers at once. His requests have always been straightforward, welcoming women who can visit for a night or longer. But they are not free with him, seeking emotional commitment, or expecting Hefner to settle down and enter marriage, are not allowed–his bed is open to all girls, but in the end, that bed is only his own.
In fact, it wasn’t Hefner’s own power that changed everything. In the 1970s, both men and women benefited from the rapid growth of the service industry, including house cleaning, child care, elderly care, food delivery, and even dry cleaning services. Sociologist Susan Lister, drawing on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, noted that “the conversion of housework that would have been done by women into paid services is a great field of new employment opportunities.” And all this The reason behind this is simple. The record proportion of women entering the labor force has been broken all the time, from about one-third in 1950 to more than half in 1980.
More and more educated women are entering the workforce faster and faster. In the 1970s, the percentage of women who had completed some college work entered the workforce from 51 percent to 67 percent, and those who had completed a college degree rose from 61 percent to 74 percent. It is precisely because these women leave their original invisible work-the unpaid housework, that other people, of course mainly for other women, create new employment demand in the service industry to replace them to complete these housework. Since then, the private service industry has continued to grow.
While women were paid far less than men (and still are), the rapid entry into the workforce made it easier than ever for women to achieve individual independence. The average age at first marriage rose slowly in the 1960s, but it began to jump sharply in the 1970s, from 21 to 22 for women, and from 23 to 25 for men. During this tumultuous decade, not only were people marrying later, they were also ending their marriages faster than ever before. In 1970, about 700,000 American couples divorced. Compared with 393,000 in 1960 and 3.85 million in 1950, this is a staggering number. But in 1980, the divorce population in the United States reached an unprecedented 1.2 million people.
Demographers’ statistics show that the divorce rate has increased by 50% in the 1970s, and another startling fact is that 25% of people who married in 1970 were divorced in 1977.
America is undergoing a divorce revolution, driven not just by women entering the workforce, but by a new morality — people are beginning to agree that taking care obligation. With the rise of this new morality, the relevant standards of “no-fault divorce” were quickly established. In her book Divorce Culture, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead writes that Americans are “increasingly concerned with their own needs and interests. Beyond traditional criteria such as income, family stability, and social In addition to class , etc., more and more people are beginning to judge the health and strength of family bonds by whether the family can promote individual realization and personal growth.
European scholars also observed similar changes. British sociologist Anthony Giddens believes that once women achieve financial independence, couples will begin to seek “pure relationships”, which is different from the “free-floating” relationships that are subject to traditional economic or social constraints. He writes that modern marriage has increasingly been transformed into a relationship established and maintained “with the emotional fulfillment of intimacy with another human being.” And when this emotional need cannot be met, especially when the marriage enters a difficult period, people increasingly feel that they must find a reasonable reason to maintain the marriage relationship, otherwise, divorce is a ready-made choice.
By the 1970s, more and more people were beginning to express the attitude that the need to pursue personal happiness was overwhelming The importance of sex. David Sarathorne describes it this way: In this decade, the ability to move unfettered from one relationship to the next seems to be as important as the Bill of Rights. Finding a place of your own is the best way to live this way.

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