The Epoch of Single Women
In the age of apps like Tinder and television shows such as Sex and the City, a change in how women perceive relationships and marriage has begun. The once popular opinion of marriage being the end all be all of a woman’s life has taken a backseat to a new idea focusing on their careers, personal relationships, friendships, and various other aspects of a woman’s life that aren’t marriage.
Recent statistics from the US Census Bureau show that the percentage of women aged 20-24 who are married has decreased from 46% in 1970 to 31.5% in 2015. When looking at these statistics further, a trend emerges which shows that overall in the U.S., women are in fact waiting to get married later in life.
Na’ama Shenhav, Ph.D candidate at the University of California, argues in a recent paper that the reasoning behind women waiting longer to get married is that they no longer have to rely on their husbands to provide for them financially. She goes on to say that previous generations of women did not have the same opportunities as the women of today and this directly played a role in why women tended to marry younger. For example, in 1970, a woman was faced with a crucial decision; does she pursue a career in a male-dominated work force where she will not get paid a competitive income, or does she instead marry a man who does have a career which pays almost more than half of what she would make? Unfortunately for many women, this decision was made for them either by their parents, or by the fact that they had no other choice.
Shenhav contends that the main reasoning behind women waiting to marry is because they are finally able to have fulfilling careers where they get paid an income that they can support themselves with. Shenhav also discusses some of the factors for marriage today and how they differ from previous generations of women, “as women become less financially reliant on men for household necessities, the decision to marry becomes more dependent on factors like love, social norms, or the desire to start a family”. Some of these factors are similar to the factors that previous generations of women used when deciding on getting married, but the only difference is that now women have more options and opportunities to acquire jobs and careers and have the ability to depend on themselves financially rather than on their husbands.
This idea of being financially independent is one that Maribel Tostado is familiar with. She recalls having a discussion with her father in which she explained to him what her lifestyle meant to her, “I know you think that I’m partying every night… [about her late 30s and the club scene] but I’m not. I actually live a very healthy life… I have a condo, actually, I own it and I have my car and I take of myself. I’m self-sufficient.” Being self-reliant has become a priority for her and was surprised to see the conversation was all it took for her parents to recognize her lifestyle as legitimate.
Tostado also spoke about online dating stating she met her current boyfriend on the popular dating app, Tinder. She adds that, “[Tinder’s] such a rare place to meet somebody of quality” acknowledging the stereotypes concerning the app. Tinder among other dating apps is conceived to be a hook-up app used to meet someone and them never talk to them again. Despite this perception of online dating, it is shown to have changed due to many people agreeing that it has become an easier way to meet people.
Pew Research Center found that users age 18- 24 increased from 10% in 2013 to 27% in 2016 while users age 55- 64 also saw increases in the number of users.
What does this say about the success of dating apps? Not much. Out of the 15% of Americans that have reported that they have used a dating app, only 5% are married to a spouse they met online (Pew Center Reseach).
Even with apps and technology that make dating easier, women are still not getting married at the rate they used to. This forces us to face the facts head on that times are changing. With changing times comes shifts in attitudes and values placed on certain social mandates. It is no longer the age of marriage, but the age of independence and self-sufficiency.
All group members were present and participated during the interviews. Edeliz acted as the interviewer, asking questions and responding to the interviewees, Helena recorded the audio during the interviews, and Karina and Jess recorded video for them which we decided would not add to our story, so we did not use it and instead opted to go for a podcast. Edeliz provided the main editing of the audio, as well as recording the voiceover for our podcast. She also wrote the script for the podcast. Helena wrote the initial story pitch as well as being the group’s secretary. Helena, Jess, and Karina worked on writing the story and Jess created the graphics.