Social stigma for single women

A study has found that the society is still viewing single women with suspicion and worse

Women who have decided to stay away from the aisle still face the social stigma associated with being single, says a new study.

University of Missouri researchers found that although there has been an increase in the number of single women, the familial and societal messages given to women who are not married by their mid-30?s remained.

Larry Ganong, co-chair of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, said: ?We found that never-married women?s social environments are characterized by pressure to conform to the conventional life pathway.

?This pressure was manifested in women feeling highly visible and invisible. Heightened visibility came from feelings of exposure and invisibility came from assumptions made by others.?

Ganong and Elizabeth Sharp, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University, noticed women between the age bracket of 25-35 felt the most stigma, which may be attributed to the fact that being single is more acceptable before age 25.

Beyond that age, they feel more scrutinized by friends, family members and others, according to the study ?I?m a Loser, I?m Not Married, Let?s Just All Look at Me?.

Ganong said: ?Mainstream media also enforce these ideas. For example, shows like ?Sex and the City,? which portray female protagonists who are hyper-focused on finding men, and end with the majority of those characters getting married, are popular.?

Ganong has a joint appointment in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. The study was due to be published in the Journal of Family Issues.

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First published on: 24-03-2010 at 11:40 IST