Sex and the Single (Neoliberal) Girl: Perspectives on Being Single Among Socioeconomically Diverse Young Women

Sex and the Single (Neoliberal) Girl: Perspectives on Being Single Among Socioeconomically... Young women’s orientation toward romantic relationships and being single is shaped not only by heteronormative gender expectations but also by their socioeconomic status (SES). The intersection of gender and class is itself situated in the midst of prevailing norms, including those stemming from neoliberal ideology. To learn how these normative conditions affect young women’s perceptions of being single, we analyzed open-ended survey responses from 274 single women in the U.S. who were between the ages of 18 and 22 and who occupied three distinct social locations: affluent undergraduates at a private mid-Atlantic university; low-SES undergraduates across New York State; and low-SES women in Western New York who were not in college. We identified eight themes that captured participants’ feelings about being single and assessed if and how the participants’ perceptions differed by social location. In the Discussion, we reflect on and summarize the thematic patterns found in participants’ responses, with affluent undergraduates seeming to characterize being single as positive and self-enhancing, the low-SES undergraduates seeing it as a strategy for self-advancement, and the low-SES non-students framing it in defensive, self-protective terms. Despite these differences, all participants seemed to draw on common neoliberal tenets. We argue that participants’ predominantly positive perspectives on being single may be at least partially attributed to commercialized feminism and an agency imperative that requires young women to cast all circumstances and conditions in light of individual choice, will, and responsibility. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

Sex and the Single (Neoliberal) Girl: Perspectives on Being Single Among Socioeconomically Diverse Young Women

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11199-015-0565-y
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Young women’s orientation toward romantic relationships and being single is shaped not only by heteronormative gender expectations but also by their socioeconomic status (SES). The intersection of gender and class is itself situated in the midst of prevailing norms, including those stemming from neoliberal ideology. To learn how these normative conditions affect young women’s perceptions of being single, we analyzed open-ended survey responses from 274 single women in the U.S. who were between the ages of 18 and 22 and who occupied three distinct social locations: affluent undergraduates at a private mid-Atlantic university; low-SES undergraduates across New York State; and low-SES women in Western New York who were not in college. We identified eight themes that captured participants’ feelings about being single and assessed if and how the participants’ perceptions differed by social location. In the Discussion, we reflect on and summarize the thematic patterns found in participants’ responses, with affluent undergraduates seeming to characterize being single as positive and self-enhancing, the low-SES undergraduates seeing it as a strategy for self-advancement, and the low-SES non-students framing it in defensive, self-protective terms. Despite these differences, all participants seemed to draw on common neoliberal tenets. We argue that participants’ predominantly positive perspectives on being single may be at least partially attributed to commercialized feminism and an agency imperative that requires young women to cast all circumstances and conditions in light of individual choice, will, and responsibility.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Nov 26, 2015

References

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