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Ear to the Ground

A Single 40-Year-Old Woman Has a Higher Chance Of…

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Posted on May 30, 2006

Twenty years ago this week Newsweek speculated that a “40-year-old single woman was ‘more likely to be killed by a terrorist’ than to ever marry.” In this week’s cover story, they retract the hackneyed thesis and reexamine the marriage statistics. (h/t: Broadsheet)

Newsweek:
By Daniel McGinn
June 5, 2006 issue - When Laurie Aronson was 29, she had little patience for people who inquired why she still wasn’t married. “I’m not a little spinster who sits home Friday night and cries,” she’d say. As she passed 35, however, and one relationship after another failed to lead to the altar, she began to worry. “Things were looking pretty bleak,” she says. But then a close friend’s brother—a man she’d known for years—divorced. Slowly their friendship blossomed into romance. At 39, Aronson married him, becoming Laurie Aronson Starr and the stepmom to his three kids. Then, after five years of infertility treatment, she became pregnant with a son who’ll be 4 in July. “My parents are thrilled—it’s a relief for everyone,” says Starr, now 49. “I wish I could have found the right person earlier and had more children. But I’m ecstatic.”

As happy endings go, hers has a particularly delicious irony. Twenty years ago this week, Aronson was one of more than a dozen single women featured in a NEWSWEEK cover story. In “The Marriage Crunch,” the magazine reported on new demographic research predicting that white, college-educated women who failed to marry in their 20s faced abysmal odds of ever tying the knot. According to the research, a woman who remained single at 30 had only a 20 percent chance of ever marrying. By 35, the probability dropped to 5 percent. In the story’s most infamous line, NEWSWEEK reported that a 40-year-old single woman was “more likely to be killed by a terrorist” than to ever marry. That comparison wasn’t in the study, and even in those pre-9/11 days, it struck many people as an offensive analogy. Nonetheless, it quickly became entrenched in pop culture and is still routinely cited in TV shows and news stories.
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By susan johnston, August 12, 2007 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment
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Happily Ever After: Without the Prince?
New Release, Princess Bubble, Strikes Chord with America’s 51% SINGLE WOMEN WHO, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN U.S. HISTORY, OUTNUMBER MARRIED WOMEN
ATLANTA, August 9, 2007—This Christmas season thousands single belles will hang their silk stockings and say their prayers before a quick night’s sleep-then it’s off to work they go. This ever growing group of Carols, Noels, and Merrys will shop, party and cook as they celebrate the holidays with families and friends. Two successful single gals will ring in the New Year with a resolution; offering parents an updated version of the traditional fairy tale. No longer a “Damsel in Distress,” this princess travels the world, helps others, and finds “happily ever after” even before she finds her Prince!

With wisdom gleaned from their careers as single, globe-trotting flight attendants, first-time authors Susan Johnston and Kimberly Webb have crafted a modern-day book that celebrates singleness. A contemporary fairy tale for all ages, Princess Bubble was written to reduce the overwhelming sense of failure, self-doubt, and despair that some single women face.

“Knowing how low self-esteem and depression plague many single females, we wanted to spread the message that ‘happily ever after’ can occur even before Prince Charming arrives. . . or even if he never does,” said Webb.

“We’re definitely not anti-Prince,” said Johnston (whose college nickname was “Bubbles”). “We’re not anti-family or anti-marriage, if anything we’re anti-‘Damsel in Distress.’ Our message—the single life can also be a fairy tale. The End!”

Princess Bubble stars a princess who is confused by the traditional fairy tale messages that say she must find her “prince” before she can live “happily ever after.” Princess Bubble dons her “thinking crown” to research traditional fairy tales, interviews married girlfriends, and even takes counsel from her mother, who advises her to sign up at FindYourPrince.com. With a little help from her fairy godmother (this is still a fairy tale after all), Ms. Bubble discovers that “living happily ever after” is not about finding a prince. “True happiness,” the book reveals, “is found by loving God, being kind to others, and being comfortable with who you are already!”

“We’ve had countless women all over the nation tell us they wish there had been a book like this when they were young,” said Johnston. “This is a story women can truly believe in and feel comfortable sharing with their children.”

ABOUT PRINCESS BUBBLE and BUBBLE GUM PRESS: Self-published in 2006, Princess Bubble is now available through most online retailers and in over 70 retail outlets. The Princess Bubble message, cleverly articulated by former Delta flight attendants Susan Johnston and Kimberly Webb, seeks to find an alternate ending to “happily ever after” and change the notion that life begins and ends with finding your Prince Charming. Looking to bolster the poor self-esteem of female youth and the stigma that many single adult women carry, Johnston and Webb believe “this is a book for women of all ages, a story they can believe in and share with their children.” In upcoming adventures, Princess Bubble will travel to distant lands where the knowledge of every new culture will enrich her flourishing life.


              -30-

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By chris tackley, May 30, 2006 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The very fact that the statement was made at all gives credence to the ongoing notion that women become less interesting, less sensual,less valuable, less appealing as they enter midlife. How convenient for the Patriarchy and thier blind female followers to make such a subtle determination in order to perpetuate the idea that youth and beauty are all the matters in a world in which ageing is equated with one’s demise. How devastating an outcome for thousands of girls and women who have bought into the theory that their value is based on a lie.

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By Nancy, May 30, 2006 at 11:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I ended up divorced at the age of 30 with an infant.  I always felt that everyone wanted me to rush out and get married again (and have more children).  The real prospects I had had in my 20’s had vanished and I had some real losers coming on to me.  Luckily, I had moved in with my sister and her husband who were childless.  They helped me raise my son who is grown now.  I was so grateful that I didn’t feel that I had to run out and marry someone out of desperation.  Personally, there is no reason that a woman in her twenties cannot get married.  But marriage is just not for everyone!

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