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The Marginalized Majority

Media Representation and Lived Experiences of Single Women

Kristie Collins

This book presents a cultural analysis of social discourses and lived experiences of single women, a demographic category that census figures indicate to be the statistical «norm» in the United States and Canada – and yet, it remains a group that largely sees itself as marginalized. While singleness and other forms of non-normative lifestyles have been gaining interest from academics and society at large, a distinct commitment to female singleness studies has yet to emerge.
Each chapter looks at distinct features of social constructions of female singleness and/or lived experiences of single women, and textual analyses and cultural critiques are used to develop a richer investigation of the data. The theoretical framework is grounded in a cultural analysis, not only using the concepts thematically to more clearly understand the data, but also calling into question the utility of the concepts themselves.

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1. Mediated Singleness: Textual representations of single women 47

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47 1. Mediated Singleness: Textual representations of single women How will you make it on your own? This world is awfully big, girl this time you’re all alone But it’s time you started living It’s time you let someone else do some giving Love is all around, no need to waste it You can have a town, why don’t you take it You might just make it after all.1 Representations of single, working women in American mainstream tele- vision have undergone considerable transformations over the past few decades. On screen, women today are portrayed as having—or being faced with—many more lifestyle choices than our counterparts were offered in the 1970s, with even singleness rendered a matter of personal choice. Gone are the days when women’s roles on television were limited to mother, daughter, or housewife; constructed only as the pretty appendages of, and dependents on, a central male character. Instead, the highest profile house- wives on American television in recent years were featured on Desperate Housewives, a “dramedy” (dramatic comedy) about the problematic, titillating, and entirely non-traditional lives of a group of contemporary suburban women. Rather than the increasingly dated stereotypes of stay- at-home wives and mothers diligently tending house and raising obedient children, the women on Desperate Housewives attempted to juggle satis- fying (or not) careers, keep faltering marriages afloat (or not), and main- tain some sense of personal identity through the turbulent years of (often single) parenting. Encouragingly, the trend for more developed and complex single,...

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