From the mouths of idiots…

kate-gosselin

Fame whore Kate Gosselin has repeatedly used her eight kids to pitch reality TV series to the TLC network (which always seems to bite). With her kids overexposed, the reality TV “star” has turned her attention back to her favorite subject: herself. Her latest bid to both stay in the spotlight and avoid getting a real job is Kate Plus Date, a show based on the divorced Gosselin’s decision to start dating again. I already pity the men who’ll be put through the wringer for this latest exercise in narcissism.

The show derives from Gosselin’s conviction that it would be awful to be an old maid.

In a gushing article on People.com, the divorced, 43-year-old talks about her dread of ending up unmarried.

“I started picturing myself sitting in a rocking chair, knitting, and words like ‘old maid’ and ‘spinster’ started to come to mind, and I realized that no, I don’t want that to be my fate,” she said. Continue reading

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The #MeToo friendliness dilemma

new-old-maidAn older guy I know on a casual basis asked me for a hug recently – then copped a feel.

Or maybe it was an accident. Maybe he inadvertently placed his hands too high up when he hugged me. Either way, his fingers definitely made contact with one of my breasts.

When it happened, I quickly moved away and made a comment about being ticklish. (It’s interesting how I felt the need to make him feel better about my reaction, isn’t it?) No more was said about it. I wasn’t traumatized by this possible #MeToo moment, but it did make me feel…icky. Continue reading

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What’s your idea of pretty?

barbieI was talking to a college teacher yesterday. As an experiment, she had her students list the attributes of someone who would be considered “pretty.”

The consensus they came up with: white, slim and blonde. With big breasts.

What’s interesting about this assignment is that her class is quite diverse. Students who happened to be African-American, Hispanic and Asian and Caucasian, students who were NOT slim and NOT blonde and girls who didn’t have big breasts all came up with the same picture of what is acceptably attractive.

Then the teacher asked the students how many of them fit the “pretty” picture. None felt that they did.

Does pretty really matter? Unfortunately, for females, it (still) does. Our self-esteem is based on many factors. I like to optimistically think that appearance plays a smaller part in what we think of ourselves than it did in the past, when women were largely judged on the way they looked. In decades past, intelligence and talent had to be downplayed if you were going to fit in and attract a man. Career capabilities were only going to be used temporarily – until you had children and left the workforce – so they couldn’t factor into it.

Now things are better, right? We don’t base our happiness on whether or not we fit some definition of pretty, do we? For the sake of those students and of young people everywhere who don’t fit some rigid notion of it, I hope not.

By the way, I’m not deliberately leaving men out of this discussion. I just don’t get the impression that looks play a big role in their self-confidence. Not for most of them, anyway. There are exceptions. The domestic terrorist attack in Toronto recently did reveal the existence of a shadowy online community of men who regard themselves as unattractive and unable to get women. They call themselves “incels,” for “involuntary celibates.” That’s sad. They regard the man who mowed down people with a rental truck – who was one of them – as a hero, because he found a violent outlet for his anger.

That’s frightening.

 

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Putting it out there

I’ve got a task for you. I want you to use your smartphone or your computer to make a video of yourself, in order to show the world an amazing, capable, attractive, well-balanced individual WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE SINGLE.

I’ll post your video on The New Old Maid’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. It will help counteract negative images of spinsters and old maids like this one:

gulch-1Here’s how to do it:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you live, how old you are (if you’d like to), what you do for a living.
  3. Then, tell us what it’s like to be you and single, both good and bad. Are you happy? Do you enjoy the freedom that you have because you are not married? Do you feel left out of anything? Do you get intrusive questions from strangers that make you feel like a stranger? Do you enjoy being able to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it? Are there things you want to do but don’t do because you’re single?

The video doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to look professionally done. It just has to be honest.

I’m about to make a video like the one I’m asking you for. I’ll link to it so you can see it. In the meantime, though, here’s a video that explains why I wrote The New Old Maid. As you can see, it is NOT fancy. Not professional. It’s just me, sitting in my kitchen and talking into my computer(!)

Whether you’ve never been married or are divorced or widowed, I’d love to hear from you. Keep in mind: embracing singledom doesn’t mean that you’re anti-marriage, or that you will never get married. It just means that for whatever part of your life that you’re single (and we are ALL single at one time or another), you get to be happy.

People need to see that.

So let hour voice be heard! Email me at moparaventi@yahoo.com and let me know that you’ve made a video and we’ll go from there. Thank you!

By the way, The New Old Maid – which explores the rich, interesting lives of single women over 40 across the U.S. – is available from Chatter House Press and Amazon.

TNOM-cover

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What happens to ME?

I see that I’ve neglected this blog. In my defense, I have been writing — just not blog posts. I’ve been working on my book, The New Old Maid: How Happily Unmarried Women are Defying Spinster Stereotypes. I wish I was able to devote time to everything I want to put effort into, like “growing” my digital platform by attracting thousands of new “likes” for The New Old Maid Facebook page. It’s easier said than done. I do get a lot of “likes” for posts, but that’s not what publishers want to see when they’re considering whether or not to publish a book. They want those damn page likes.

So I’m going to cheat a little bit here. For this post, I’m going to share with you the beginning of the chapter I’m currently working on, about dating and relationships.

And BTW, PLEASE go to The New Old Maid Facebook page and “like” it. You don’t have to be an old maid or even a woman. It’ll help me out a lot if you do that, and ask your friends to do it, too.

Here’s the start of that chapter:

Continue reading

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Chealsea Handler talks about the “single-bewilderment syndrome”

This was written by Chelsea Handler, actor, comedian and host of Chelsea on Netflix. It appeared in Time magazine.

We should laud singledom, not lament it

chelseaHere I am, a humble single girl trying to make it on my own — just like Mary Tyler Moore was in her 1970s hit TV show — and yet still people reflexively ask me all the time: “Who are you dating?” “Will you ever get married?” “Don’t you ever get lonely?”

I come from a big, loving family. I’ve had plenty of boyfriends, one or two marriage proposals and deep and intense human intimacy in my time on this Big Blue Marble. And after experiencing all that and seriously thinking about marriage, I respectfully reserve a table for one in the restaurant of life. Continue reading

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The liberation of my feet

high-heelsLast night I went to the symphony, which gave me a rare opportunity to dress up. This time – in addition to a fancy outfit and large, glittery earrings, I decided to take the ultimate step. I pulled a pair of rather beautiful high heels from the back of the closet and put them on. (The picture at right is actually of me. Not really.)

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had on heels. It was probably for a play I was in. I used to wear heels more often, although I can remember kicking them off at wedding receptions so I could dance in comfort.

Ah, yes. Comfort. Continue reading

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Learning from Millennials

Gender fluidity. Pop-up stores. The gig economy. Heteronormativity. Apps for everything. Feminism 2.0. Bernie Sanders.

Millennials are transforming the way things are done, discussed and thought about – sometimes in very good ways, and sometimes in very confusing ways. Continue reading

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The woman ahead of me WAS me

airplane-nightIt had been a long weekend, and an emotionally draining trip to visit a dear cousin who was terribly ill. By the time my plane landed at my home airport, it was late at night. I was exhausted, and tired of everything: security screenings, having to keep track of my boarding passes, sitting in cramped seats with no leg room. Once the plane landed on solid ground, it seemed that we were forced to wait forever before being allowed to leave it. Overhead bins were popped open, carry-on luggage pulled down, but still we waited. I was exhausted.

Finally, there was movement up ahead. People began to make their way down the narrow aisle toward the exit. I was able to move out of my row and head toward the front of the plane.

But the older woman ahead of me was moving slowly, pulling a small suitcase behind her. I gritted my teeth in irritation: why couldn’t she go faster? A gap opened up in front of her; why didn’t she speed up and close it?  Continue reading

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Why losing my job in my late 40s was the best thing that ever happened to me (conclusion)

woman-silhouetteWhere was I? Oh, yes. Unemployed, pushing 50 and living in a state (Michigan) devastated by the recession. Yeah. Good times.

And…I was single. I know that married people face crises and challenges, too, but at least they face them together. There must be some comfort in that. A job loss can be financially difficult, but there is still – hopefully – one income coming into the household. When someone who’s single loses their job, they are on their own.

Things looked grim

All around me I saw people with highly marketable skill sets, advanced degrees and tons of experience getting laid off. Anyone involved with the auto industry, in particular, suffered from terrible anxiety about whether or not they’d keep their job, but they weren’t the only ones who wondered how long they’d be getting a paycheck. Every day we’d hear about new job losses. Things looked grim. Continue reading

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