Single Women pp 106-127 | Cite as

Partnerships and sexuality

  • Tuula Gordon
Part of the Women in Society book series (WOSO)


Are single women interested in forming close partnerships; if so, why, and if not, why not? What tensions and contradictions are experienced in the area of relationships? By being single, what have these women gained and what have they missed? How do they deal with sexuality? In the nineteenth century women were thought to have greater moral purity than men, and spinsters were supposed to exist in a realm above or beyond sexuality. After the sexualisation of women, single women seemed to have no legitimate relationship to sexuality. Celibacy came to be seen as abnormal and deviant, but sexuality was to be expressed in the context of marriage. With growing permissiveness and tolerance in social and moral attitudes the opportunities for single women to define their sexuality increased. But stereotypical views of single women as a sexual threat have not disappeared; women still walk the tightrope strung between a continuum of representations from madonnas to whores. A sexually active woman, who does not express her sexuality in the context of romantic attachments institutionalised in cornpanionate marriage, is still judged and feared.


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Copyright information

© Tuula Gordon 1994

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  • Tuula Gordon

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