Friday, November 7, 2008

The New Single Woman

I've been procrastinating on this post, a book review, because I just have way too damn much to say about the book. I'll probably have to do a short series (please don't be afraid). I recently found the book in question, The New Single Woman (E. Kay Trimberger), while browsing in a Goodwill. I thought it might be good to blog about, so I bought it. Although the title somehow makes it seem like it's from the '60s and is extremely cheesy, it's actually from 2005 and is a fairly serious sociological survey (although it is an easy read). It's not a perfect book-- for example, it bothered me how people's races were only mentioned if they weren't Caucasian. I also have the annoying habit of getting bored when these kinds of books include too many personal interviews. However, it's rare to find a book that not only critiques aspects of society, but actually tells you what you can do to improve your own life (Trimberger focuses on a list of circumstances that she feels women need for a fulfilling single life). Even though the focus is on women over 35, Single Woman probably validates my life more than anything else I've read in recent memory. It's also probably the most ace-friendly book I've ever read. Trimberger emphasizes "destigmatizing celibacy", "redefining romance", and separating intimacy from sex; things that have long been of concern to the asexual community.

That said, the definitions Trimberger uses aren't that clear-cut. She uses "celibate" a lot, which could encompass both sexual and asexual people who aren't currently engaged in a sexual relationship. "Asexual" is used twice, although it doesn't seem to refer to the orientation. However, I have no idea what Trimberger actually does mean by "asexuality" in those references, as it obviously doesn't mean celibacy, either. Example: "Until very recently, neither feminists or sexual libertarians viewed celibacy as part of the sexual spectrum, leaving it to mean only intentional, moral, or religious asexuality (21)."

Trimberger also talks about "sensual celibacy", in which people get their kicks from non-sexual activities (flamenco dancing is an example). At any rate, Trimberger finds a variety of single women that are satisfied with their sex lives, whether they're very sexual or celibate. Oh, by the way, this is apparently what you need for the single life: "...a home, meaningful work that is not one's whole life, a satisfactory sex life or a level of comfort with celibacy, a connection to the next generation, a network of friends and/or extended family, and a community... (87)". Well, I won't inundate you with too many quotes from a book you haven't read. I'm going to go off now and lament the state of the San Francisco rental market; check back Sunday to see how our meetup went.


Anonymous said...

Ooh, I hope my library has this. Thanks for the recommendation!

pretzelboy said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with doing multiple post series on topics :) I look forward to reading more.

Ily said...

Yah, people should definitely check this one out! I always like other peoples' series-- I tend to write about topics once and then never mention them again, so I'm working on having a little more continuity.

Anonymous said...

I will have to check this out. Princess Bubble is my favorite "single girl" book but I have now given that to everyone I know and would love a new favorite.