The Thrill of the Chaste, Chapter 3

It’s baaaaack!

Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2.

Luckily for me, Jill has pretty much covered this chapter, which is the “singular woman” bit:

Well this is quite the review of Dawn Eden’s book. It sums up a lot of what Dawn writes, so that people like me don’t have to suffer through actually reading a self-help mantra for 30-somethings who are willing to do just about anything to get hitched. To copy something Amanda said, the book essentially comes down to, “All single women are like Dawn. Except Dawn.”

EXAMINING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN the lifestyle choices of sex (mostly casual) outside of marriage and the decision to wait until sex can be fully experienced within marriage, Eden identifies two types of women: single women and singular women.

She explains, “A single woman bases her actions on how they will or won’t affect her lacking state.” In other words, if the activity doesn’t apparently bring her immediately closer to her desire of not being single, then she’s not interested. If the party doesn’t guarantee some quality eligible bachelors, forget it. If the fellow asking her out on a date doesn’t fit her ideal of what her mate should be, forget it.

The single woman is excessively utilitarian, and auto-determining; she defines her relationships, her circumstances, and her future, according to her desires. The “other” only comes into the picture insofar as that person is useful to her. She spends her time resenting what she does not have, especially the lack of an intimate relationship, even though she bases her identity on that very lack. Her identity is about what she hasn’t got (a boyfriend or a husband), not who she is.

A singular woman acts integrally. She chooses to do things because they are good in and of themselves, not because they will serve her immediate interests whether they involve dating and romance, getting a job, or any other desire. She allows herself to actually experience what a situation offers, even if she didn’t foresee it. Unlike the single woman, she will go to a party simply to have fun and be with people she enjoys. If she meets someone at the party, it will be all the better. But whether or not she meets someone won’t determine the success of the party.

I’m assuming that Dawn thinks she’s a “singular” woman, and most other unmarried women who aren’t chaste are “single.” But when I read “She spends her time resenting what she does not have, especially the lack of an intimate relationship, even though she bases her identity on that very lack,” I think of, well, Dawn. After all, this is someone who bases her blog, her book, and her entire public persona on being chaste in order to snag a husband, since fucking didn’t get her exactly what she wanted. Talk about utilitarian.

In essence, the difference between the two types of women lies in the direction of their gaze: inward, at one’s self, or outwardly, towards the other?

Most women are navel-gazing selfish bitches. On the other hand, Dawn, despite having a website dedicated entirely to Dawn, and a book based entirely on the assumption that Dawn’s experiences are similar to those of most women and Dawn is right, is gazing… outward.

There’s more, of course, but it runs along those lines. The chapter opens with a description of a continuing education course on “Living Single.” Dawn reads the description — which is all about helping people confidently navigate the single world, whether they’ve never left it or are re-entering it — and all she sees is “lack.”

She would, wouldn’t she?

I mean, her whole life, she’s felt lacking, and though she’s changed her strategy, her goal is the same: get married. Thing is, as she does so many times, she breezes right by the point. The course is designed to alleviate some of the social pressure that single adults feel to be in a couple, that they are in fact lacking something. It’s designed to help people understand that they don’t need to be in a couple to have fulfilling lives. But Dawn just sees the course as evidence that women are mired in a pathetic, pop-culturally-dictated “single lifestyle” that is all about lack — that lack being, of course, lack of a man and lack of God.

That the course might attract men as well never seems to cross Dawn’s mind. She brings up Bridget Jones, even — which I’ve never read, but which I understand to be something of a wry commentary on how the culture does a number on single women with the message that they’re nothing unless they have a man — who Dawn characterizes as lacking, lacking, trapped on a merry-go-round of self-loathing until Darcy comes along and rescues her.

It is only women who have to worry about singleness or singularity — men, apparently, are all singular.

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10 comments for “The Thrill of the Chaste, Chapter 3

  1. anneke
    February 12, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    I wonder how she explains non-chaste, non-Christian quirkyalones.

  2. Sammy
    February 12, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    I’ve read Bridget Jones, and honestly, this Dawn chick sounds like a ‘smug married person’ minus the man. Its awful.

  3. Interrobang
    February 13, 2007 at 2:21 am

    The more she keeps thinking of herself and her life in terms of withouts instead of withs, the less likely she is, I think, to find someone. Amazingly, most men (aside from abusive assholes) don’t find neurotic, clingy, codependent women attractive. Much as I think Dawn Eden is a nit, I don’t really want to see her marry someone who’s going to beat her or something simply because she wants to get married more than anything else.

    Hint, Dawn: It’s the “marriage” part that’s important, not the “getting married” part! Even I know that and I’m not married and have no real desire to become that way.

  4. ilovermont
    February 13, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Oh, Dawn, Dawn. I don’t know.

    I guess on the one hand I can’t get too upset about her, because while I think she’s missing out on a lot of good things in life, it’s her life to miss out on. I do think she’s misguided about her own motivations, but, again, that’s her own problem.

    I wandered over to her boards a while back, though, and there it was a different story. The majority of the posters (many of whom seemed to be retirement-age men, for some reason) kept setting her up as this paragon of virtue, being all “Everyone must be like Dawn! We must enact legislation to make everyone like Dawn!” And she would pop on to “moderate,” most of which contained some “Aww, shucks, you guys really lurve me?” crap.

    Then again, I haven’t forgotten that she came out in support of Jessica during Althousegate, so now I’m back to the “I don’t know” school of opinion-making.

    Le sigh.

  5. blair
    February 13, 2007 at 9:21 am

    I don’t think quirkyalone really has a place in Dawn’s worldview. The idea that you can be complete and single is not a concept she seems to understand. It’s sad, really. Like zuzu points out, she still has the same goal she had before…..she’s just changed tactics. And it drives me crazy that she only thinks there are two options…either lots of casual sex or waiting till marriage. Now either of those things are fine, if you are doing them cause they really are what you want/ need at the moment. But I feel like most people fall somewhere in between. They aren’t sleeping with multiple partners every weekend, but they’re not waiting till marriage either. Does Dawn actually know any real people? I guess anyone who does know her is hesitant to discuss their sex life with her……..I know I would be.

  6. DAS
    February 13, 2007 at 11:28 am

    men, apparently, are all singular.

    Ha! What a loon Dawn seems to be!

    Isn’t a non-singular (I sound like I’m talking physics or math here) man one of the various types of Nice Guys(TM) in this universe of ours?

    I certainly wasn’t singular as an undergrad. Indeed, one could argue (as I was told many a time as a young-un, though I didn’t believe it — sounded like a paradox to me) that not being singular is a good way to drive away potential mates.

    But how is Dawn being singular by being chaste? It sounds like she is less so than before even. I do think that Dawn Eden really is a Nice Gal(TM).

  7. February 13, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Funny how Ms. Eden seems to apply her particular – and amazingly narcissistic world-view to women, but conveniently ignores men. Apparently it’s okay in her view for a man to choose to be single, but not a woman.

    From what I’ve seen, I think she’s idealized marriage to the point that anyone she marries is going to be doomed to either playing precisely the role she thinks they should, or suffer her retaliation as reality sets in and she is disappointed by it.

  8. jp
    February 13, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    I hate when people take cheap anti-feminist shots at Bridget Jones. I LOVED those books and that character (and the first movie, though the second was teh suck). I was single, ummm, singular, whatever, WTF, til my early thirties, and have been with my present SO for 16 years (not-married together, so fuck you very much, Dawn). But having gone to SO many family gatherings like the ghastly turkey-curry buffet that opens the book, I identified and laughed my ass off. And the books ARE to a large extent about the number society does on Bridget’s head for being a “singleton” at her age…anyone who just thinks the character is a desperate twit who only wants a man hasn;t read them.

    Bridget is a lot more. She’s loving and loyal to her friends, she takes risks and chances, and is willing to make a fool of herself for a good cause. And she is funny as hell.

  9. February 13, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    Aargh, Bridget Jones! I had a huge fight with my mum because she didn’t believe that cultural pressure to couple up *existed*: “look, my friend Betty never married and no-one thought any less of her for that” and similar non-arguments. One of my points was Bridget Jones, but she demolished that in an instant. “No, silly, it’s humour. You’re supposed to think she’s a ditz and laugh at her.”

    My sister, the family peacemaker, split the difference: “Yes, it’s humour, and yes, you laugh at her, but it’s dark humour and you laugh because deep down you’re afraid you’re just like her.”

    Sorry if that was off-topic.

  10. February 14, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    I spent quite some time explaining to my dad (after a throwaway comment of his about “rubbish like that Bridget Jones book”) that although 99.999% of chick lit is rubbish, badly written and reinforces the status quo*, Bridget Jones was funny, well written and satirical about singleness and the pressure women (in particular) experience to conform by being coupled up, slim and in a great job. (Actually, that’s why the movie didn’t really work for me – you didn’t get Bridget’s interior monologue so you didn’t understand how intelligent, despairing and critical she was. You just saw her as a slapstick clown who fell over a lot.)

    Needless to say he’d never read either Bridget Jones’s Diary or any chick lit, but he got my point.

    *Marian Keyes is another notable exception from the “chick-lit = rubbish writing and shallow obsessions” rule.

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