Yesterday, I was thinking about being a life long single woman without children. Only 15% of the US population is made up of single women. It suddenly occured to me that I have lived my entire adult life in a “purely female inner world.” The first popular feminist of the modern age was Simone de Beauvoir, who was also a life long single woman who never had children. When she wrote her book, The Second Sex, in the 1940’s, very few women were college educated and living single, independent lives. Given that the percentage of single women is still so small, and that women living alone is a very recent historical phenomena, it stands to reason that this would be a rather difficult position from which to navigate one’s life. The televison show, Sex and the City, was popular, in part, because it showed the challenges single women face in managing their lives alone. But, much to my dismay, the series ended with all four characters partnered. I thought Ugly Betty was actually a much more positive representation of a single woman’s life. At the end of the series, she was still single and was moving forward in her life as a highly skilled and competent magazine editor. Looking back over my life, I don’t know if I actually chose to be alone, or if this was simply part of my destiny. One does have free will, but it is not only one’s ego or will that determines the course of events. It sometimes seems like my solitary life was preordained, that I was chosen to be in the vanguard of a certain type of evolutionary process. In her book, The Change, Germaine Greer is highly critical of de Beauvoir’s later work, in which she complains about getting old. But now that I am getting old myself, I understand and sympathize with the place de Beauvoir was writing from. Older women who married and/or have children, experience aging from a different perspective than a single woman. I am not implying here that either experience is better or worse, but am just trying to point out that the experience is different. I am very aware that popular culture tries to gloss over the aging challenges of the older, single, childless woman by promoting the adoption of social activities that involve traveling or volunteering, or anything that falls into the general category of “being active.” The message seems to be that this type of woman needs to get out and be around other people or she will be viewed as pathetically lonely. This advice does not take into consideration the fact that single women do not easily and naturally fit in with married couples or that a single woman will automatically feel comfortable around the “mostly extroverted” people who enjoy group activities. I once went on a cruise to Mexico and felt extremely alone despite the fact that there were many activities to be involved in on the ship. I suppose this is an example of how some people can experience the feeling of loneliness most acutely when they are in the midst of a crowd. In general, when I feel lonely, it not because of a lack of companionship, but rather a lack of representation of people like me in society. It is the lack of seeing “my kind, my group, my clan/tribe/counter culture” represented in the world around me, or worse, the pain of seeing “my kind” ridiculed and shamed. I recently watched a British movie called, Another Year. It was about a long time married couple’s relationship with an older, single woman friend. Throughout the movie the married couple kept trying to find ways to more comfortably relate to the single woman. But over and over, their attempts to forge a deeper friendship failed. At one point the couple decided that the easiest way to get the single woman out of their life was to hook her up with one of their single, male friends. What struck me as I was watching the movie was the implicit assumption that the single woman’s “singleness” was a problem that needed to be solved. And, the simplest answer to this was, of course, to pair her up. But the single woman wanted and expected to be friends with the couple as she was. I have experienced this several times when single woman friends get married. All of a sudden, my singleness is perceived as a “deficiency.” One of these women actually hooked me up with her ex-husband in order to, in her words, “make both of us feel better.” But after going out for awhile, neither her husband or I felt any better, or missed her company any less. One of the definitions for an existential feminist is: “A female who makes considered choices regarding her way of life and suffers the anxiety associated with that freedom, isolation, or nonconformity, yet remains free, demonstrates the tenets of existentialism.” Many of the books and articles about single women focus on the superficial aspects of single life, but for me, being a life long single woman is really not about these superficial things, it is about having made a choice to live apart from the dominant culture as a free, lone, female. I don’t need condenscending platitudes from talking heads about how to make the best of my single life. What I need are intelligent, well-thought out philosophical discussions on female freedom in the modern world.