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.