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Why Are Women Shamed For Wanting To Stay Single?

Culture
PHOTO OF GLYNNIS MACNICOL BY NAIMA GREEN

Talking with Glynnis MacNicol about her new book ‘No One Tells You This’

"Think about it," Glynnis MacNicol says, sitting across a table from me in a coffee shop. "Women are always talked about as being drivers; we don't like them in the driver's seat. In stories about women on the road, they're either being chased or they're fleeing something." This is all, MacNicol points out, part of a larger narrative, a societal one, in which "women are rarely afforded the opportunity to navigate their own lives." This is a narrative which MacNicol is seeking to upend, both in the way she lives her own life and with the documentation of that life, in her new memoir, No One Tells You This.

Documenting a period in her life that women are taught to, if not fear, then at least use as a time to reflect on whether or not they've achieved certain, widely agreed-upon life goals—the years surrounding her 40th birthday—No One Tells You This is MacNicol's exploration of what it looks like to be a woman who isn't doing things in the traditional way, one who has eschewed things like marriage and children; one who is, in a sense, driving down a road with no map to follow. And so the analogy about women drivers, and the fact that they're so rarely trusted to know where they're going without external guidance, is an apt one. It is, in fact, one of the reasons why MacNicol originally wanted to call the book Good Driving, as a means of offering up a version of life that many women don't think is available, one in which the destination might not be predetermined, and in which the focus is on the fact of traveling itself.

It's easy enough to forget the many ways in which women are told—from the time they are young girls—that their lives should unfold in a certain way, and that way necessarily includes marriage and children; even as our culture has grown somewhat less heteronormative, the pressure placed upon women to be married and have children is still all too prevalent. But just as a recent wave of books on motherhood has revealed the need to offer a different perspective on a part of life that has too often been portrayed in only one specific way, so, too, is there now the need to show what life is like for women who don't have children or get married, who are set apart from those rituals which have long served as signifiers of a "successful" life.

In countless ways, MacNicol is living what could only objectively be called a "successful" life: She has a wonderful, close group of friends; a great relationship with her family, including a close connections with her nephew and niece, who wants to be just like "Auntie Glynnis" when she grows up; a vibrant, self-directed career; a terrific apartment in New York City; the ability to frequently travel around the world. It's the kind of life that, were any man to have it, would be envied by all; and yet, because MacNicol is a woman, she's constantly being told that she still has time to find the right man and have kids one day. Because she's a woman, total strangers feel compelled to pity MacNicol and tell her that she's done life all wrong, implicitly trying to humble her for living the life she does.

MacNicol, who says, "I'm living as fulfilled and enjoyable and difficult as a life as I would be if I'd made a different decision," thinks that this type of constant critique that she endures speaks to larger problems with how our society treats unburdened women: "I feel like, in the same way we don't train women what to do with money, we don't train women to deal with any sort of freedom. And when we have it, we're told to feel shame for it. Like, what's wrong with me that I can do whatever I want? What's wrong with me that I don't have anything preventing me from traveling?"

We've long been taught to either pity or fear the single woman; throughout history, we've seen them as everything from witches to crones, from sexual temptresses to cat-loving spinsters—rarely are they depicted as being happy with their lives, rarely are they seen as being in charge of their present reality. No One Tells You This changes this by providing something that MacNicol likens to a "field report" from the frontlines of her life, as it's being lived. She says, "I wanted to take a snapshot of what was happening, as opposed to insinuating, 'This is what it means.' I really just wanted to say, this is what's happening in my life and I see it happening in so many other women's lives, but I don't see it being reported on anywhere. I really wanted it to be like, 'I'm out here,' and I wanted to say what it's like, because nobody else is."

What it's like, for MacNicol, is not just a rosy picture of a woman doing whatever she wants, without a care in the world. Rather, it's a nuanced exploration of MacNicol coming to terms with where her decisions throughout her 20s and 30s have brought her, for better and for worse. There is a lot of joy: MacNicol has a truly wonderful group of friends, and her traveling takes her everywhere from the glaciers and hot springs of Iceland to the far reaches of Wyoming. Her career offers her the flexibility to leave her home base of New York City and visit her family in Canada, as needed. She is aware of the fact that she has many wonderful things, and that some might be dismissive of her because of her privilege; she says, "I do belong to a strata of privilege that I'm aware of, but I also don't think it's something I need to apologize for, because we still do need someone to model this [type of life], so that there's a trickle-down effect. I'm aware of why I can do this, and I'm aware of why not everyone can do this, and so those are the things we need to talk about, so that other people can do this."

And there are also many difficult things in MacNicol's life: The memoir is bookended with the death of MacNicol's mother, whose life was wildly different from MacNicol's own, and centered around her role as a wife and mother. Beyond that, MacNicol is not immune to bad relationships, including unfortunate online dating matches and the kind of toxic relationships that have your best friends threatening to block a guy's number if he texts you one more time. MacNicol also confronts the perilous financial realities of working in a chaotic industry (media), and how that affects things like retirement planning and health care needs. Plus, MacNicol grapples with whether or not she is really okay without having kids, and her decision-making process is one of the more interesting, insightful ones on the topic I've read, never veering into the kind of binary we usually assign to women, that they either love or hate children. 

But perhaps what becomes most clear is that the challenges of living a life not frequently documented is that, even when other people accept that your life can still be a celebratory one, they don't quite know how to celebrate it. MacNicol brings up an episode of that ultimate "single girls trying to have it all on their own" TV show, Sex and the City, and mentions the episode "A Woman's Right to Shoes," in which Carrie, upset at having a pair of shoes stolen when she was celebrating the birth of yet another one her married friends' children, has those friends buy her a new pair of shoes—but as part of a gift registry for the occasion of Carrie's marriage, to herself. 

MacNicol says she initially thought that story line was somewhat silly, but now, "The older I get and the more I understand her challenges, the more I understand the motivations behind those actions. How do you measure the progression of a life without any rituals? It's really tough. I don't know what the solution to that is, but I think by writing the book, I hoped to create a marker, because I think we should get some kind of celebration of our lives that feels deeply meaningful."

And while, of course, Sex and the City ended rather disappointingly for anyone who wanted a celebration of the single girl (MacNicol thinks that Carrie should have moved into that Brooklyn brownstone with Miranda, rather than having married Big; we agree), it's now possible to see a future in which the choice to be single, to live life on your own terms, will be widely celebrated. Or at least, it's important to fight for a future in which it can be. As women's freedoms are more and more curtailed by a presidential administration which seeks to make it increasingly difficult for women to have access to health care (it's no coincidence that women's relatively recent economic freedoms came alongside the rise of readily available birth control and abortion rights), it is essential to have a diversity of narratives available on the myriad ways a woman's life can be lived—and Glynnis MacNicol is here to tell you how she's lived her life, so that more women can feel like it's possible to live their own lives in any way they please, and never have to feel ashamed for their freedom or their choices.  

No One Tells You This is available for purchase here.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube www.youtube.com

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Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

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Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale youtu.be

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

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Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.

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