"I'm a loser, i'm not married, let's just all look at me": Ever-single women's perceptions of their social environment

Elizabeth A. Sharp, Lawrence Ganong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite growing numbers of singles, the idealization of marriage and child rearing remains strong, pervasive, and largely unquestioned. Guided by life course perspective, the purpose of this article was to examine familial and societal messages women receive when not married by their late 20s to mid-30s. Using descriptive phenomenological method, the authors conducted 32 interviews with 10 middle-class, ever-single women. Respondents' social environments were characterized by pressure to confirm to the conventional life pathway. Pressure was manifested in women feeling both highly visible and invisible. Specifically, women's social worlds included (a) awareness of the changing reality as they became older (e.g., changing pool of eligible men, pregnancy risks), (b) reminders that they were on a different life path (i.e., visibility) through others inquires and "triggers" (e.g., weddings), and (c) displacement in their families of origin (i.e., invisibility). The authors discuss the visible/invisible paradox, which appeared to be pronounced at their life stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)956-980
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Volume32
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Keywords

  • Life course
  • Phenomenology
  • SNAF ideology
  • Single women
  • Social environment

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of '"I'm a loser, i'm not married, let's just all look at me": Ever-single women's perceptions of their social environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this