The “Problem” With Single Women: Choice, Accountability and Social Change

Shelley Budgeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
449 Downloads (Pure)


Despite increased acknowledgement of gender equality as a social good, there are some areas where the practice of women’s autonomy is apparently inconsistent with the normative prescriptions of a new ‘empowered’ form of femininity. Sexuality and personal relationship status are sites where women are positioned within neo-liberal and post-feminist discourse in such a way that their choices are subject to questioning. A model of gender hegemony is useful for understanding how and why choosing to be single may still constitute a ‘problem’ for women, despite the intensification of messages which also address women as autonomous, sexualized subjects. In cultures dominated by an ideology of marriage and family life, single women’s identity work resolves contradictions in the current gender order and in the process reinstates heteronormativity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Oct 2015


  • Femininity
  • gender relations
  • heteronormativity
  • heterosexual couple
  • ideology of marriage and family
  • neo-liberalism
  • post-feminism
  • single women
  • women’s choices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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