When are advertisers going to pay attention to single women?

They should. There are a lot of us.

Since the dawn of advertising, marketing strategies aimed at female consumers have had two goals: to convince them that the products being advertised would 1) help them get a man or 2) make them better mothers and wives.

sexy-hairIn the first category: makeup, perfume, clothing, fitness and hair care products that will make you sexier to men. You wear certain mascara, dab on expensive perfume and exercise until you get flat abs and you’ll snag a guy.  Even your hair must be considered as part of your arsenal of sexual attraction (check out the $18 volumizing spray called for in this “10 Ways to Sexy Hair” article from InStyle.)

Full disclosure: I wear makeup and jewelry. I style my hair. I wear clothes that flatter me, hopefully. I view these elements as ways to express my personal style, not as symbols of some kind of single-woman-desperation.

The second category is even more insidious. Pick up any non-fashion-oriented women’s magazine next time you’re at the supermarket and you’ll find tons of ads for food items, cleaning products, toys for kids and home décor accessories – all of which you should buy and use if you want to make your family happy and healthy.  These seemingly benign promotions are manipulative and damaging. Women have a tough time trying to live up to the idealized versions of wives and moms that are thrust upon them by society. I know this from friends who are wives and mothers. I know this from my own mother.

But I’m getting off track.

Time to ditch the stereotype

“How is it 2018 and many marketers still think a single woman is just a married couple who hasn’t happened yet?” That question is posed by Jess Lloyd in an AdWeek article entitled, “It’s Time to Ditch the Isolating Single Women Stereotypes and Expand Marketing Efforts to Include Them.” Continue reading

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Single women show off their buying power

The Wall Street Journal recently had an article about how the percentage of single women over 55 buying homes has doubled over what it was 20 years ago. They also buy homes at double the rate of men in that age group.

One reason for this: there are more older single women than men. After a divorce, men tend to get remarried because they can’t stand to be alone whereas divorced women often relish their newfound freedom and opt to stay single. Men also don’t live as long as women. I attribute that to all the red meat they eat while they’re making fun of our salads.

But there’s something more than numbers behind the home-buying rates. Many women who are in this phase of their life want to own a home of their own. If they have offspring, they’re grown and out of the nest, hopefully. The home buyers are presumably at peak earning potential in their careers and have money to spend. And best of all, they can choose an abode that reflects their tastes, rather than the needs of a family and the preferences of a spouse.

B3-AX765_NEWDAY_M_20180625110558Naturally – it is the Wall Street Journal – the three women home buyers profiled in the piece are wealthy (by my standards, anyway). The writer notes that one decided to downsize to a house that was easier to care for – from a 5,000 square foot house to a 3,200 square foot one. Another bought a 7,000-square-foot house with six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. Granted, she wants to have room for her kids, mother and eventual grandkids to stay when they visit. (Her kitchen is pictured at left.)

Still, it would have been nice for the WSJ to show us an example of a single woman home buyer in somewhat more modest financial circumstances.

We’re out here, you know.

Click here to read the entire article.

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“She won’t hit it very far, anyway”

woman-golfer-1I was at a driving range yesterday having Golf Lesson #2 when a man drove up in one of those caged vehicles that drive around golf courses, picking up balls.

“Didn’t anyone tell you the driving range is closed?” he asked my instructor, who said no, he’d had this lesson scheduled and it usually wasn’t closed on Monday evenings.

Apparently the range is regularly closed on Wednesday evenings so that all of the balls can be picked up and the grass can be cut on Thursday morning.

I never did find out why the schedule had been changed. My instructor prevailed, and our lesson continued.

Before he drove away, the man in the ball-picker-upper looked at me and said, “Well, she won’t hit it very far anyway” – presumably referring to the fact that once the lesson was over, it would be easier to clear my close in balls than balls that were further away.

His prediction was accurate, so I’m not bent out of shape about it that. I don’t hit the ball very far yet, because I’m a beginner. Yet, he would never have said that OUT LOUD about and within earshot of a man, even if he was thinking it.

This wasn’t a #MeToo moment. It was just annoying. I will throw it on the mental pile of rude comments I’ve gotten from strange men over the years that include a guy at a gas station telling me I should have checked the oil – “but women don’t do that” – when I pulled in with engine trouble. (I do check the oil and the problem did NOT turn out to have anything to do with oil levels.) The guy in the parking lot of a Home Depot who told me I would not fit a piece of wood in my car. (I did fit it into my car.) Neither of them would have made comments like that to a man. I ignored both of them, when I should have said something back.

My answer to Mr. Driving Range will come during Golf Lesson #7 or #8, when I hit the ball so hard I smack into his little caged cart and knock it over onto its side, shaking him up and helping him to correct his ideas about how hard women can hit golf balls.

OK, it might not be til Golf Lesson #9 or #10, but it gives me a goal to AIM for!

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From the mouths of idiots…


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.


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It’s a Great Story, But I Can’t Write It

I’ve got a terrific idea for a stage play, a feature film or a documentary movie. However, I cannot be the person to write it. I’ll explain why, but first, a little background.

I was trying to organize bins full of family photos that I’ve inherited when I came across a bundle of V-Mail sent home by my father, when he was in the U.S. Army during WWII. As I learned while reading them, he’d asked his mother to save them, because he thought he’d like to read them later.

These letters were gems! I don’t want to go into too much detail, but they allowed me to meet my father as a very young man (he was only 17 when war broke out and the Pennsylvania National Guard – along with all the other state’s was made part of the U.S. Army. He served 5 years. He landed at Normandy during D-Day + 6, got to see people living in London subways, visited Buchenwald after it was liberated, voted in his first presidential election – by mail – and mused about the just-used atom bomb (“It’s a good thing…or is it?”).

I wrote a short play based on the letters called “Jack Writes Home.” It was performed recently online by St. Dunstan’s Theatre. Click here If you’d like to see it.

For that play and the non-fiction book I’m writing about the letters and my family history, I did some research, in order to provide context for what my father was writing about. I was intrigued about a reference he made to racial strife. Digging deep into this unknown (to me) chapter of history, I was astounded at the amount of violent conflict that occurred between Black and white G.I.’s in Great Britain, during the war. A common scenario seemed to involve Black soldiers socializing with white British women – and white soldiers taking offense at that. There were small fights and very large battles involving many men. There were serious injuries, fatalities and courts-martial. The Brits must have been horrified at how Americans were fighting each other when there were other enemies with which to content. In an effort to separate the two, the Army took to granting passes on different days for soldiers of different races.

In an incident that occurred stateside, some G.I.s were being transported to an army camp in Arizona when their train stopped in a small town in Louisiana for a meal. The Black G.I.s were not allowed to eat in any of the local restaurants. They got to eat in the train depot cafeteria kitchen. While they were there, a group of white German P.O.W.s were brought into the depot, under guard, and allowed to eat in the actual cafeteria. The Black G.I.s were understandably furious. One wrote an eloquent letter to Yank magazine, expressing his outrage that the enemy soldiers were getting better treatment than men who were prepared to lay down their lives for the United States. The letter got an enormous number of reader responses, most of them agreeing that it was an outrage.

As a writer, I know a good story when I stumble across one. This side of WWII needs to be explored and written about, but it needs to be done by a Black writer, not co-opted by a white one. No matter how hard I try, I will never have the perspective that a Black writer would bring to this.

I’d be happy to share my research with someone who wanted to write about this. Any takers???

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Daryl Hannah did WHAT?

hannah-youngDaryl Hannah is out of the club! The actor and activist recently got married FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER at the age of 57, to 72-year-old music legend Neil Young. The two have been dating for about four years. Not that I read tabloid news or anything.

The willowy blonde (I think she still looks willowy, anyway) has long been a standard- bearer for single women over a certain age – whether she meant to or not.

Professionally, Hannah has made some interesting career choices, like when she charmed Tom Hanks as a naked mermaid in “Splash” or frolicked in the future as a sexy robot (albeit one with really bad eye makeup) in “Blade Runner.” She isn’t all about work, though. Hannah is a serious environmental activist. Unlike a lot of wealthy entertainment industry types who make donations to the Natural Resources Defense Council while ignoring the ginormous carbon footprints created by their their Beverly Hills mansions and many high-performance cars, Hannah walks the walk. She lives in a solar-powered home and drives a biodiesel-fuel-powered vehicle. She’s also been arrested – more than once – for protests involving environmental issues, like the Keystone XL pipeline.

And when she wasn’t busy acting and being an activist, Hannah was dating: really hot guys, like John F. Kennedy Jr. and musician Jackson Browne. What she wasn’t doing was getting married. At least until now.

Why Hannah chose this time in her life to embrace tradition and tie the knot has been the focus of lots of wild speculation, via social media and on various websites devoted to celebrity gossip. Not that I visit them. Since she and I are not bff’s, I will never know what was behind her decision. Was it Neil Young’s idea? Was it hers? After all these years as a singleton, did she finally say to herself, “This feels right. I might as well get hitched.”

Hannah is one of the famous “old maids” that I profiled in my book, The New Old Maid: Satisfied Single Women, which takes a deep dive into what it’s like to be single in a society that relentlessly promotes coupledom. In the book, I also examine the lives of many non-celebrity old maids. To a woman, they say they are thoroughly enjoying their lives (except for when they’re pestered about why they’re still single). It took some of them awhile to get to a place of self-acceptance, to shed the “loser” label they’d taken on – because they weren’t married – and to feel good about themselves just as they are.

However, every woman I spoke to said she is still open to the idea of getting married. Not in desperate need of it, but open to it. It’s an important distinction. The other big takeaway: they would only consider matrimony if it wouldn’t curtail the freedom and autonomy they’d come to relish.

So Daryl Hannah is out of the “old maid” club, with my best wishes. She leaves our ranks and heads toward what I sincerely hope will be wedded bliss. That’s ok. We’ve still got Tyra Banks, Marissa Tomei, Diane Keaton, Dr. Condoleeza Rice, Jacqueline Bisset, Sheryl Crow, Kristen Davis, Edie Falco, Chelsea Handler, Dr. Mae Jemison, Debbie Harry, Winona Ryder and Oprah Winfrey, along with countless other non-celebrity never-married women who don’t need husbands to help them feel fulfilled.

But as Daryl Hannah has shown, if the right man (finally) comes along…it may be the right time to get married.

The New Old Maid: Satisfied Single Women is available on Amazon.com.

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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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