"Female, single, happy – don’t look for it": With her pamphlet, Gunda Windmuller wants to debunk stereotypes about women who live alone.
No, not all single women eat chocolate for breakfast Photo: imago-images/Prod.DB
Single women sit on their sofas in the evening crying in their pajamas and watching tearjerker movies that express their longing for a man, Mister Perfect. This, ladies and gentlemen, is called a narrative, presented in this way or something similar in countless unromantic comedies.
Single women end up as bitter quirks, no matter how successful they are; bitterness always stands out as a foreboding omen in their faces, even Ulf Poschardt, editor-in-chief of WeltN24, knows. And he should know!
Female, single, happy – does that exist? At most, perhaps until the age of 25. But after that? It ends in despair. At least, that’s how society wants to tell it. In her book "Weiblich, ledig, glucklich – sucht nicht" (Female, single, happy – not looking), Gunda Windmuller, journalist and cultural scientist, has set out to expose the myth of the unhappy single woman as such. Her polemic in gentle laughing tones aims to create new narratives for happy womanhood regardless of relationship status. They are sorely needed!
Windmuller tells how she, as a single woman in her thirties, is a hard case to be set up at weddings or in bars every now and then: "Look, Gunda, there’s a guy standing there, he’s single. Wouldn’t that be something for you?" Surprisingly, Gunda doesn’t think every man who meets the minimum qualification of straight and showered is cute. So it’s not going to work out with the relationship! And it shouldn’t.
Men demonstrably suffer more from being single
In her book, Windmuller traces the myths of the woman in need of a relationship: she shows that the romantic relationship between two is a historically recent construct, that the idea of motherhood as a woman’s destiny, including the glorification of the mother-child relationship, is ideologically occupied. She describes prototypical examples of female friends who alternately define themselves strongly through relationships. And, of course, Windmuller illuminates above-mentioned narratives and traces RomCom images and fairy tale scenarios.
Most importantly, she shows that there is a glaring disparity in how the sexes are perceived and need relationships: Men, for example, demonstrably suffer more from being single, benefit enormously from emotional stability in commitment – health-wise, psychologically, not to mention the professional advantages of having a woman watching your back and taking off the psychological ballast. But this image of neediness doesn’t fit the stereotype of the virile man who wants only ONE thing – wink, wink.
Men benefit enormously from emotional stability in a bond
Women, on the other hand, do not benefit from relationships in terms of health and accept enormous disadvantages, especially in relationships with children: from the growing gender pay gap to lower pension entitlements to the triple burden of child, job and household.
So there is a contradiction between what the relationship does for the woman and the social value that is ascribed to the relationship. Or, in other words, the myth of the woman who can only be happy in relationships is so important ideologically because relationships are associated with so many disadvantages. You have to pitch it to young women in very pastel colors and with a lot of soft focus to make life with a husband and child and dog and all the mess they make seem really fabulous.
The problem is our compulsion to justify ourselves.
However, there are also the narratives of the stressed young mother who can’t even get around to washing her hair. Or the one about the cuckolded wife at an advanced age who is replaced by a younger woman. In this respect, it is not entirely true that alternative narratives are missing.
When I read this, I have the feeling that it is not only the narratives that are a problem for women, but above all our compulsion to justify ourselves.
This text comes from the taz am wochenende. Always from Saturday on the newsstand, in the eKiosk or immediately in the practical weekend subscription. And on Facebook and Twitter.
For centuries, so much has been written about what a woman’s life should look like – maybe we should stop doing that and just do it instead? Maybe we should stop discussions about it in kitchens and bars? Very rude and direct?
After all, it doesn’t just affect single women. As a mother you have to justify yourself to non-mothers, as a single parent to happily partnered ones. And men and women alike feel called upon to criticize the lifestyle each identifies as wrong. "What, children? So harmful to the environment!"
As readable as this polemic in cotton-ball pink may be: in the future, we women should have the cojones to stop justifying ourselves. Then we would finally have the self-image of men.