Image: Knocked Up
Close readers of this blog will have noted that, to use the Facebook parlance, I am ‘in a relationship’, and have been for some time.
This is something of an aberration. For most of my teenage and adult life, I have been single, a landscape dotted with flirtationships and the occasional relationship. This means that, like most women who have been single for any decent period of time, I have been told I am “picky”.
“I don’t understand why you’re still single!” one of my friends would say, in a quasi attempt at flattery.
“She’s just too picky,” another would say with a resigned sigh.
Needless to say, this gave me the shits. And funnily enough, nobody calls me “picky” anymore, despite the fact that I am the exact same person, with the exact same “standards” for what she looks for in a partner.
But I don’t think “the p-word”, as I call it in my feature in this month’s CLEO (Rachel Bilson is on the cover), is about having excessively high standards for a partner. Nor do I think that knowing what you want means you’re not going to find out. Rather, I think “picky” is just another part of the relationships apparatus that Amanda Marcotte has been writing about so well lately (and that I have written about before, in response to He’s Just Not That Into You).
“Picky”, and its twin discourse, “you’d better hurry up and settle”, says:
- That heterosexual women always want to be in relationships, and that if you’re single, there’s something wrong with you.
- That you ought to be grateful for what male attention you do get - your role is to be the chosen, not to the chooser. (Incidentally, this is pretty much the argument that is made in The Surrendered Single.)
- That you’re not as great as you think you are (a recurring theme in Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him, which inspired the article), and probably aren’t “worthy” of being with the kind of person you’re attracted to anyway - there’s always someone younger and hotter around the corner, girls!
And a whole bunch of other offensive implications, too.
That’s not to say that there isn’t such a thing as being “too picky” - or “superficial” as blogger and columnist Clementine Ford (who features in the article alongside Jessica Valenti and other awesome, un-surnamed single and coupled “picky women”). But for many, “pickiness” is simply a resistance to submitting yourself to the misery of being with someone you don’t love or connect with.
What do you think?
Related: How He’s Just Not That Into You exploits gendered insecurity
The case for not settling: my take on Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him