(This second letter published in The Age took 21 years for me to write. Why? Because after the first published letter (The right to dissent), I nearly lost my job because of its political perspective. Having worked for the opposition morning daily newspaper for just three months as a cadet, I was warned, albeit warmly, by that editor to be careful about penning more letters. Mindful of my ‘career’, I refrained from writing letters, only to restart a new avenue of communication in 1989.
“There should be no shame in being over 30, single and female. In Bettina Arndt’s Tempo story (The Age,10/5), her argument that women are appalled to admit they’re looking for love is a gross over-simplification and sweeping generalisation about women in that category. It is just glib nonsense.
I would suggest instead that both men and women have always been timid about admitting their need for love; and the reason is not, I stress, because of the abandonment of traditional female values and the desire for freedom and independence, but a much more pervasive frailty of admitting we’re lonely. Be it at 20 years old, 30 or even 60.
And more to the point is the nature of the available men; I would argue that had these women Arndt writes about met the compatible person, they might have couple up – even in their 20s.
I am 39, and have never been married and while I didn’t want a traditional marriage and still don’t, I haven’t met a man I’ve wanted to marry and share my life with. While I’ve copped the predictable flack about what’s wrong with me (and I’ve heard it said about men, too), I can now cope with the lament (at least I hope I do) and can admit quite openly it would be wonderful to meet a compatible man.
It’s more to do with confronting our loneliness and at times, emptiness than being frightened such an admission will undermine our achievements.
For men and women both. I’m still looking for love and am not afraid to admit it. But damned if I’m going to settle for second best for the sake of it. And if society wants to label me “stranded” then let it. It’s other people’s problem, not mine.”