Is it me or do many people look at single women, who are in their thirties or beyond, as flawed pariahs? As in, there must be something wrong with them if they aren't married. As if the primary goal of all women is to be married and if said goal isn't achieved, they're not just flawed, they're also miserable unhappy.
Don't believe the hype.
Journalist Nika Beamon is on a quest to shatter the myths circling single women. Her book I Didn't Work This Hard Just to Get Married: Successful Single Black Women Speak Out illuminates the voices of single women—some of whom choose to be without a partner—who lead satisfying and rewarding lives. Beamon begs the question, "Why, no matter what else single women achieve, is their lifestyle viewed with less luster than a diamond solitaire on their third finger?"
In the foreword to I Didn't Work This Hard Just to Get Married, Bella DePaulo, author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After articulates the heart of the issue:
What our society is peddling is the myth that single people can never be truly happy and can never lead a genuinely meaningful life. Single women with fabulous jobs are taunted with the insinuation that their jobs won't love them back. They are sternly warned that if they do not hurry and have children, their eggs will dry up. Despite the number of single moms who raise wonderful children, headlines proclaim the (mythical) dire fact that awaits children raised by just one parent.
Beamon interviewed single female lawyers, executives, actresses (including Kim Coles of the television show Living Single), students, mothers, writers, and entrepreneurs to hear their thoughts about how relationship status plays out in their lives.
There's business executive Susan Chapman who's looking into adopting a child while single. About her plans, she says, "If I don't ever become a mom, I'll be disappointed. If I don't become a wife, I'll get over it."
There's single mother Jackie DeVaughn who suffered financial strain after her divorce. However, she hasn't been turned off by marriage, but enjoys the time she spends getting to know herself. "I think sometimes, as women," she says, "we sacrifice ourselves for different relationships whether it's with our spouses or our children." But she believes that time alone gives women "an opportunity for self-definition." DeVaughn works at being a good role model for her daughters and maintaining what Beamon describes as a "healthy attitude about men and relationships."
There's also single mother Lisa Parker who, although no longer in a relationship with her child's father, has worked with him to raise their son, minus any "baby mama/daddy drama."
Or movie producer Effie T. Brown who admits frankly, "Kids personally frighten me. I'm thirty-five. Aren't we supposed to feel our biological clock kick in by now? Well, I don't have that." That's not to say that Brown doesn't want a companion. But she's not going to deny the fabulousness of her life because she doesn't have a partner.
I Didn't Work This Hard Just to Get Married helps to confirm that we need to dismantle society's pressures, preconceived notions, and judgments regarding marriage and allow women to define their own expectations for their lives. It's like Beamon's grandmother told her, "There is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely."
is a writer, speaker, author of books for adults and youth, and the book columnist for The Root. Her most recent book is \"The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs.\" Visit her at feliciapride.com.