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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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3. Sex OUTSIDE the City: Lives of single women in non-urban settings 115


115 3. Sex OUTSIDE the City: Lives of single women in non-urban settings On Prince Edward Island, I stayed in the pretty roadside house of old friends, not far from the shore. From my bedroom window I saw a white gibbous moon rolling in the deep blue summer sky, the moon of Artemis, the hunter, the solitary rider, the lady of wild things, the god- dess who stands slightly outside society and makes her own rules […] The single women of Prince Edward Island move cautiously, discretely, within a grid of expectations as clear to them as the island’s red roads. The term for somebody who thinks she’s entitled to be different is “big feeling,” as in “She’s getting a bit big feeling.” Like the goddess Artemis.1 This chapter explores the role of locality—both the geographical and eco- nomic environments in which one is located—in the lived experiences of never-married and previously-married single women. Despite the fact that media constructions of sexually adventurous, financially independent single women have permeated the social consciousness, from early “single woman” shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show to recent shows such as Sex and the City, it is important to note that these series almost consis- tently locate their characters in large, affluent, urban settings—entirely different venues from the small towns and rural areas of Prince Edward Island. Single women in shows like Ally McBeal or The L Word are most often depicted in high-paying, stimulating jobs where they seem to have...

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