Last month was a great month for news about the marriage prospects of America’s single women, if by great you mean completely disheartening.
We started with the news that America is now a majority-single nation. This should be good news for anyone looking for a partner, right? I mean, as Pew notes, 25 percent of “never-married young adults ages 25 to 34″ are already living with a partner, and another chunk are probably dating a partner (or multiple partners, poly people exist too), but still… the odds should be in the single-but-looking woman’s favor!
Then we learned that men of all ages prefer women in their 20s. Well, maybe like Blanche DuBois, I can look like I’m in my 20s if I stand in the right light. (As The Toast well noted, A Streetcar Named Desire’s “aging widow” Blanche is only 30 years old, the same age as Jess from New Girl. We’re not supposed to think of 30 as “old” anymore, unless we’re a guy on OKCupid.)
And then we got some statistics from Pew that were theoretically about “values, economics, and gender patterns” but which were quickly analyzed to reveal an uncomfortable truth: there just aren’t enough marriageable men. If, by “marriageable,” you mean “employed.” (At first “marriageable” was defined as “never previously married” and “employed,” and then when they didn’t like that number they decided to throw in all the divorcés too and there still weren’t enough employed men for every “never married young woman.”)
Here’s a cheerful story about a female academic whose potential employers were queasy about her marital status. This is known in the ivory tower as “the two-body problem.”
my marital status kept popping up in preliminary interviews, campus visits, and even in discussions with my letter writers. “What would your poor husband do?” emerged as a refrain in my job search. One of my recommenders repeatedly asked whether I would take jobs if they were offered. Later, I wondered if married male colleagues had to endure similar conversations. Did their spouses figure so heavily in the calculations of recommenders and interviewers? Were their wedding rings analyzed? Were their poor wives influencing possible job offers? Apparently not. Writing in The New York Times, English professor Caroline Bicks describes how her husband emerged as a “problem” in her job search, whereas no one ever asked him about his wife. “It felt as if my wedding ring was a hurdle I had to clear to prove my commitment to academia,” she writes, “while Brendon’s was a badge of stability and good-guy gravitas.”
And oh God it gets worse: