I found it interesting when having conversations with friends how they think there is something wrong with the solo female life adventurer… like they are broken, or have been hurt in love and trust sparingly.
It’s never addressed with a positive attitude.
But there are subtle hints in how people act, underlying meanings under what they say.
What is this obsession with having to be coupled to be deemed a success in life? Especially for women. Is it this primitive biological imperative to pass on our genes that is to blame?
I have known many strong independent women who, especially later in life, have been content and happy single. They weren’t cold hearted or had difficult personalities or disfigured in any way.
The more I thought about it, the more it made me feel uncomfortable that a mere relationship defines our identity. We don’t need to marry, or have children. There are other types of ‘ships that fulfil our lives: like companionship and friendship.
Are there many of these female solo crusaders in our literature that are shown in a positive light? To be honest, I am struggling to think of a single one off the top of my head.
Is it really that undesirable?
I get love is amazing, especially finding that one person who compliments you and finally clicks the world into a rosy perspective. But so is a meaningful friendship, a soulmate, a kindred spirit. It doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic.
We do see some of these relationships in novels from a young protagonist – because, the underlying tone is that they are still yet to meet their significant other. But older characters are painted as widowers, sad and lonely and like there is something missing (not to mention the crone in the woods, or the crazy cat lady at the end of the street). What happened to that elderly woman who is out exploring life, traveling, meeting new friends and sharing her vast knowledge… I want that woman as a lead!
I’ve found some GLBTQ+ novels touch on this topic, the best friend becoming a lifetime companion. And I appreciate that this genre of literature is ground breaking in exploring different types of relationships, but sometimes I get the feeling that the author is making the point that just because a character has identified as GLBTQ+ that the only significant relationship is one of friendship/companionship. Not that there is anything wrong with that – but why is the expectation so different? Such a double edged sword.
I don’t want to turn this article into a rant – there are so many factors in society which impact on this simple statement. But it was just an observation that has jumped out at me recently because of attitudes of friends and family, coupled with gazing over my book shelf and not finding a title that helps reinforce that growing old single is a positive thing.
It goes to show that my book buying habits are just as much to blame as anything.
It doesn’t have to be feminist, ageist or any ‘ist… I just wish there was a bigger representation of strong, fun loving, older female role models in popular fiction.
With an aging population, and women outliving men, isn’t it blindingly obvious that in the real world we are inundated with marvellous female role models – I think it’s time we give them some of the spotlight.
What fiction books have you read with an older single female protagonist? List any below…
© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.