Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 2:25 PM ET, 01/20/2011

'Premarital Sex in America' and the single girl

By Alexandra Petri

I'm not single.

Single is what you are when you're thirty and you have to go to a wedding by yourself. Single is when you join Single is what you are when someone says, "Hey, we should go clubbing," and you say, "No, I can't, there's a marathon of Molly Ringwald movies that I promised Bubbles I would watch." Bubbles, in this scenario, is your cat.

When you're single, you see the study "Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate and Think About Marrying," and get hot under the collar, forwarding it to your Best Girlfriends and yelling at them about it on the phone. The study says (in fancy study-speak) that young hussies are stealing all the eligible men. The problem, according to CNN's report of the study, "is that there will still be women who will have sex readily without commitment, and since men know this, fewer of them are willing to go steady."

"Hussies!" you shout. Then you eat an entire container of Ben and Jerry's and watch a Katherine Heigl movie on demand while stroking all three of your cats and having professional success. I'm extrapolating here.

But this doesn't describe me at all.

I'm just -- myself. I don't own a cat. I don't belong to OKCupid. I intend to meet a man the way God intended: naked and surrounded by plants. I don't identify with Katherine Heigl characters. My idea of a quality evening is curling up with the Season 4 DVD set of that gritty prison drama, Oz.

I haven't crossed the invisible line yet. Because the line does exist. Somewhere, you stop being just You and become Single.

Apparently, this happens to everyone. And although I thought it was like death or being audited -- something I could probably avoid if I prayed enough -- it seems like it's coming for me, too. Suddenly I'm supposed to care about whether or not there are fish in the sea. People sometimes ask to fix me up, as though I were a historic house.

And this past weekend, I went to my first bridal shower. Looking for a gift, I wandered through the housewares section of Anthropologie, seeking checkered oven mitts and 7" digital photo frames. All I could find was cat-shaped hutches for your butter. Maybe this is how it starts, I thought. First you're you, then you walk into Anthropologie and suddenly realize your life will be incomplete if your butter cannot be placed in a hutch shaped like an owl family THIS INSTANT. You're single.

But apparently this doesn't happen to men. As portrayed by the study, pornography has transformed the relationship dynamic. "A segment of 20-something men are content to have their sexual experiences by themselves, removing them from the pool of available partners," CNN noted. As portrayed by the study, men spend a lot of time, er, resolving things manually, and then they come outdoors and sort of whistle or emit a specific musk, and suddenly houris come falling out of windows into long-term relationships. This seems a bit odd, but there's science behind it.

Is this what the revolution wrought?

The study seems to imply that the moment Single suddenly hits will be our own dang fault. This seems unfair. Casual relationships were supposed to be our birthright because of all the inconveniences our forebears endured in the 1960s. They burned their bras and wandered around the countryside with itinerant flute players, ramming their heads through the glass ceiling and often injuring themselves. If we can't have professional success and the occasional NSA relationship, what did they do it for?

But according to the study, when we were dashing about from 18 to 23 flinging our favors at all and sundry, our future selves were languishing in the Housewares section of Anthropologie by the butter hutches.

Have we come too far? Or not far enough? Do we need to go around branding "ONLY KIND OF ELIGIBLE" on the men who emerge from their caves after eight years of, uh, manual labor to drive the market values back into parity? Or do we just need to stop?

"Not tonight," we'll explain. "There's someone by the butter hutches."

No, I'm not single.

Not yet.

By Alexandra Petri  | January 20, 2011; 2:25 PM ET
Categories:  Petri, That's awkward  | Tags:  America, kids these days, sex  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Kennedy inaugural address: Ask not what happened to oratory
Next: Cell-phone-distracted lady falls into fountain -- this is the American dream!


Where is love?
Does it fall from skies above?
Is it underneath the willow tree
That I've been dreaming of?

Posted by: divtune | January 20, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

My butter hutches bring all the nerds to the yard and they're like, being single is hard, damn right, being single is hard, I could date you, but I've too much lard.

Posted by: purpledrank | January 23, 2011 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company