Have you ever thought about how single women are portrayed in the main stream media? I believe there is a screwed view that is slightly annoying in how single women are presented in movies, series and books. The characterization or the story line connected to single women are usually rooted in old-fashioned stereotypes that need an update. From my non scientific observations, I have noted a pattern in the pop cultural arena. To describe and simplify my findings I have divided the single women characters into two categories. The first group consists of single women who clearly have emotional/intimacy “issues” . In the second group we find women who appear to be “normal” (for the lack of a better word).
Let’s start with the “issues” group. Usually it’s a party crazed, no strings attached chick who doesn’t take life too seriously and seem to have a hard time holding on to a job. Or we jump to the opposite end of the spectrum. Here we find the successful carrier oriented, uptight female with a small/non existent social circle that goes home to an empty apartment every night. Common for these two stereotypes is that they radiate a “I don’t want/need a man” aura. But the story always ends up the same. *Spoiler alert* they will end up with someone and become “cured” and live happily ever after. There’s also a third stereotype in the “issues” group. This character is a charming woman at first glance who shortly turns out to be an over-obsessive psychopath (bunny boiler style)! By the end of the plot, this lady will not have made it out alive ( personally I would have preferred for her to get proper treatment instead).
In the second group the single women are perceived by the observer as “normal”. That is, they don’t really stand out nor do they seem to have any obvious difficulties. My concern is that when the single woman is a balanced individual, the whole plot or at least a huge chunk of it, is centered around her civil status. That is, the entertainment part involves the single woman and “the love of her life” and we all know how this movie ends too right?
The explicit messages mainstream media holds are pretty straightforward in terms of personality or the main thread of the plot when the lens is focused at the single woman . But what are some of the implicit conclusions that are being conveyed? One fundamental indication is that single women are either not following the “normal” emotional/attachment curve or their main focus is/should be aimed towards partnership. In other words, if there is no (healthy) strive for mating something must be wrong. Pfft, come on people! it’s seriously time for a nuanced tale of the single female. How about portraying women living solo with just the right amount of emotional disturbance, living life uncompromisingly , focusing fully on themselves and their dreams maybe? Can’t wait till the day where this is part of the main stream media! I don’t want to sound too pessimistic though. There are those that contradict the main stream pattern. Anyone seen “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”? Or the the film “Happy go Lucky”? I got hooked on this movie (which is on Netflix) when I saw it a couple of years ago. The lead is a 30 year old single woman who actually is “normal” and, wait for it, satisfied with her life with zero focus on a romantic interest. Can you believe it?! Please, spread the word of this ground breaking news!
There are exceptions to the “focus on getting a man or you must have severe intimacy problems” theme, although the majority seem to hold on to it. I think the effects of this is probably greater than one thinks. The main stream media contributes in forming the the way we perceive the world and in conclusion making. From an early age our minds get feed which concepts and lifestyles are considered to be good or bad, right or wrong and also what value and associations are attached to them . In turn this can have an impact on the norms, stereotypes and prejudice that exist on an societal level. Simultaneously, the media and it’s messages might be a reflection of society viewpoints. I believe the direction of influence between main stream media and societies’ opinions goes both ways. It can sound paradoxical but perhaps it’s a classic case of “what came first the chicken or the egg” phenomena. Or maybe the relationship between the two can be described as living in symbioses where they’re reinforcing and keeping each other alive . Either way, how do you believe this is expressed on an individual level?
What are the consequences for the real single female?