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“…I’m fully capable of changing a light bulb all by myself.”

I took some time off this weekend to just relax and chill out.  One of the things I did with my “chill-out” time was catch up on some light reading (it’d been weeks since I actually had time to read through all of my favorite sections of the Sunday ).

Sometime around midday I came across this brief interview with Eve Ensler in The Times Magazine. I was struck by the last few questions (and answers).

Are you married?
No. I’m a nomad. I have a place in New York in the Flatiron District, and I have a place in in Île Saint-Louis, and I spend a lot of time in Congo.

Do you ever yearn for security now that you’re 56?
Thank you for putting my age right out there! Security isn’t what I hunger for. I hunger for . I hunger for connection. I hunger for good sex.

What if you just want somebody to help you find a ladder in the basement?
I don’t have a basement. And actually it turns out I’m fully capable of changing a light bulb all by myself.

Like I said, struck.

Whatever you might think of Eve Ensler as a playwright, performer or activist, her life is hardly incomplete. She has homes in New York and Paris and spends a lot of time in Congo, where her foundation is building a facility for survivors of gender violence. But she is a woman. So no interview with her would be complete without asking about her marital status.

She answered in a positive, upbeat way, only to have it followed up with “do you ever yearn for security now that you’re 56”. Um, excuse me, but here is a successful woman who’s earned enough money to be financially secure for the rest of her life, and who is well respected by millions of people all around the world. How is she in any way insecure?

Anyway, the article got me annoyed.  Really annoyed. Because it was in the The Times Magazine and written by a respected journalist.  And because there was an underlying, no matter what you achieve as a single woman you’re never going to be secure assumption made. Which just sucks. And I feel like the whole security myth (married = secure; single = insecure, therefore get married and stay married) probably does married women as much (if not more) harm as it does single women (think for a moment of all of the women you know who would be financially devastated/completely lost if their husbands died or left them). Whoa, too many parentheses in that paragraph.

Random fact: I have pretty high ceilings and spent weeks after I moved in to my current apartment looking for a tall stepladder (as I’m so petite) so that I could change the light bulbs on my own.  I found one and do, indeed, change my own damn light bulbs.

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19 to ““…I’m fully capable of changing a light bulb all by myself.””

  1. Terry says:

    One marries not for security financially- but for security that is drawn around a couple by almost every government. For a relationship to grow, it needs privacy- and the institution provides that barrier.

    The statistics prove your point- women do worse in marriage, financially, than men – -and divorce almost universally devastates them. Women who marry don’t live as long as those who remain single. Men, on the other hand, do better financially when married, and live longer.

    Not all of us are handy either. However, like single women – I have a handyman. He’s a handsome bloke that most of my girlfriends have had a crush on — hmmmm.

  2. Lifebeginsat30ty says:

    Roar is right! Dang journalist was probably a man. Actually, even when I was married, I changed all of the light bulbs and more. I like doing house projects. He would try and ‘help’me (aka take over MY project), and I would shoo him away. Ha!

    • Simone Grant says:

      I know that she didn’t mean any harm by it, and that it was a “natural” question. That’s what annoys me most of all. That it seemed appropriate to ask.

  3. You’re right. They would never ask that security question to a man. It just shows how much social conditioning we still have to break free from. Well, at least this country’s on its way.

  4. Brittany says:

    Articles like that leave me fuming. There is such a double standard, even today. Single men are bachelors, single women are old maids. Its like there is something wrong with a woman if she isn’t married with children. I’m single, I’m happy, and I change my own damn light bulbs too!

    • Simone Grant says:

      Yes, the double standard is alive and well and our media buys into it in all kinds of ways – big and little. I was equally furious this weekend over the deluge of articles about Jennifer Aniston’s new “Single Girl’s Home”. So many magazines made a big deal about the fact they she bought a home and had renovations done and was moving in ALL BY HERSELF. No husband, no boyfriend. How dare she remove the his and her bathrooms in favor of a bigger tub (or something like that)?


  5. pups4me says:

    I wonder if Elizabeth Edwards and Jenny Sanford are worried about their security now that they are divorcing their cheating husbands.

    • Simone Grant says:

      :-) I’m quite certain that they will be walking away with wonderful book deals and equitable divorce settlements. Tis a pity the same can’t be said for all divorced women (re the settlements, not the book deals).

  6. Kelly says:

    Interesting post. I get annoyed with these assumptions, too. Probably because I spent my twenties and thirties fielding questions from friends and relatives about why I wasn’t married, while my unmarried older brother was only asked about his work. At any rate, there is a double standard, but it seems like things are shifting and we don’t quite know where they will land (women feeling more empowered to create lives that don’t include marriage?). Good for Eve. In the end, it’s about what makes you happy.

    • Simone Grant says:

      YES, in the end it’s about what makes you happy. She seems happy and fulfilled and does good things for other people which is more than most people can say.

      There are days when I’m absolutely certain that everything is changing and that in 10 years questions like those would never be asked. And then other days I’m sure we’re stuck in the mud of time.

  7. datehater says:

    I completely agree with you. How infuriating! And ignorant!

  8. D says:

    This is overwrought. The New Yorker did a profile of Bloomberg last year and talked about him about being a bachelor — and he’s a billionaire. When David Souter was up for the Supreme Court there was a minor kerfluffle about him being a bachelor at 50.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Overwrought? Entirely possible. However, politicians (and judges, too) are supposed to be “stable”. To offer stability in that same way that marriage offers stability to women. There’s actually been quite a lot written about the American obsession with politicians who are married.

      Because, you know, single people just aren’t reliable…

      • D says:

        I agree with your take on the relative stability of single vs. married. My point is that men get questioned about this too. Any profie of a famous actor or artist will likely touch on his relationship or lack thereof.

  9. Tahoe Bill says:

    What struck me is that the inappropriate questions gave her an opportunity to impress the reader by handling them so gracefully and pointedly. Asking the dumb questions gave her a platform to share that she is single and successful, and I love that we have a role model to show that it CAN be done.

  10. Miss M says:

    In a way this made me giggle. Being a mid 40 single mom, I get questions like this a lot. My grandmother was convinced I could not possibly be happy unless I had a husband.

    In contradiction to the above: While I am very capable of changing my own light bulbs, I am getting to a point where I don’t want to anymore. As “unenlightened” as it will sound – there is a part of me that wants to bat my big brown eyes and say “Honey, can you fix this” and flit away without a care in the world.