From Black Voices — A good friend finds herself irritated by the incessant chatter about the “single black woman” phenomenon. She confides that she recognizes the challenges that many black women face in pursuit of love and she feels for them, but she’s coming from a different place. At age 38, she has no interest in walking down the aisle, settling down or raising children. She never has. Therefore, the logistics and statistics for finding a good (black) man don’t mean a lot to her on a personal level. Perhaps, she’s a bit of a loner that way, but she’s definitely not alone in how she feels.

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It’s true, however, that love, marriage and a baby carriage are high on the list of most single women and preferably in that order. Women are socialized to believe that being a mother, with a loving husband in tow, is the holy grail of womanhood. For many, it’s impressed upon them early and often. Wittingly or not, they find themselves locked living in an echo chamber being inundated with the message of matrimony and motherhood by moms, grandmas, aunts and girlfriends. And it’s not just women. From the player talking that bullsh*t to the pastor hollering from the pulpit, men are prone to take women on a head trip as well. The portrayal of women in popular culture is yet another vehicle to drive home the point that a woman of age without a husband and child to call her own is missing out on her divine purpose. Unfortunately, those who reject that premise are subjected to constant second-guessing their entire adult lives.

But that’s what most people excel at — believing and behaving as everyone else does and judging those who dare to do otherwise. People, in general, don’t strike me as being particularly adept at running their own lives, much less the lives of others. Yet there seems to be no shortage of unsolicited opinions. According to conformists, everyone has a lane, and love it or not, you don’t leave it.

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