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I spent many a golden afternoon at my small New England liberal-arts college debating with friends the merits of leg-shaving and whether or not we’d take our husband’s surname.(Even then, our concerns struck me as retro; hadn’t the women’s libbers tackled all this stuff already?But my future was to be one of limitless possibilities, where getting married was something I’d do when I was ready, to a man who was in every way my equal, and she didn’t want me to get tied down just yet.

Once, in high school, driving home from a family vacation, my mother turned to my boyfriend and me cuddling in the backseat and said, “Isn’t it time you two started seeing other people?

” She adored Brian—he was invited on family vacations!

Learning to be alone would make me a better person, and eventually a better partner. At this point, certainly, falling in love and getting married may be less a matter of choice than a stroke of wild great luck. And the elevation of independence over coupling (“I wasn’t ready to settle down”) is a second-wave feminist idea I’d acquired from my mother, who had embraced it, in part, I suspect, to correct for her own choices.

I was her first and only recruit, marching off to third grade in tiny green or blue T-shirts declaring: , and bellowing along to Gloria Steinem & Co.’s feminist-minded children’s album, Free to Be …

Recent years have seen an explosion of male joblessness and a steep decline in men’s life prospects that have disrupted the “romantic market” in ways that narrow a marriage-minded woman’s options: increasingly, her choice is between deadbeats (whose numbers are rising) and playboys (whose power is growing). Right Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, the author of Why There Are No Good Men Left, on the challenges facing today's single women Let's Call the Whole Thing Off The author is ending her marriage. By Sandra Tsing Loh The Wifely Duty Marriage used to provide access to sex. By Caitlin Flanagan Sex and the College Girl "This is clearly a mess and not one that is going to clear up with magic speed on the wedding night." By Nora Johnson A Successful Bachelor (June 1898) "More interest should be taken in bachelors.