Helen Gurley Brown died today. Here’s a re-print of a post I wrote about her earlier this year:
Helen Gurley Brown turned 90 this past February 18. I discovered her when I was a teenager and became an instant fan. She was a woman ahead of her time; I hadn’t heard another woman with her message. I was certainly familiar with (and appreciative of) feminists who were trying to empower us, but Helen was coming at it from a whole ‘nother angle: it’s okay for a woman to be single, and really ok for her to have and enjoy sex, to have fun, to have a full life. I didn’t know anybody else who was saying this quite that way.
I bought her book, Sex and the Single Girl, and read it at night after I went to bed so my mother wouldn’t catch me with it. Helen was 40 when she wrote the book so she wasn’t some young, flighty girl being wistfully naive. This woman had lived. She went on to showcase her perspective as editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years.
Katie Roiphe wrote an article in Slate magazine acknowledging HGB’s birthday and celebrating her accomplishments.
From the article: “It has now been 50 long and eventful years since the publication of Helen Gurley Brown’s feminist classic, Sex and the Single Girl, in which she made the groundbreaking observation: “I think a single woman’s biggest problem is coping with the people who are trying to marry her off.”
True then, still true. But I’m trying to do my part to help chip away at this notion that a woman must be married to have real worth. I certainly know this “you must marry” sentiment has softened since she wrote this book…but it hasn’t softened enough. Just last week I patiently explained to my new doctor how it was possible that I was “really ok” without a husband or kids. He said he couldn’t understand how a woman could feel that way. And he’s only 40, so I can’t even blame it on him having grown up in a different time. I like him, though, so I teasingly reminded him that it’s the 21st century and the old rules don’t apply. I hope I gave him something to think about.
Anyway, happy belated birthday to Helen Gurley Brown and many thanks to her for helping enlighten me as a teenager. I’m hoping that one day some young girl will say the same thing about my book —The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree–which will be out on March 15. I can only hope.
How did you come to the conclusion that being single is ok? Or have you?
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