Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Sex and The Single Girl: Before There Was Sex in the City, There Was (Cult Classics) Paperback – January 1, 2003
|New from||Used from|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Well, around 1964 one of my parents brought this book home, although neither of them would ever confess to the deed. Whoever it was, they did me a big favor. When the folks weren't watching, I swiped the book and devoured it in a single long sitting.
Helen Gurley Brown should have entitled this masterwork "All the Hard-Nosed Things that Young Women in the So-Called Pre-Feminist Era Need to Know about Money, Career, Independence, Women's Rights, and The Way Things Unfortunately Are. And Oh Yes, Sex. That." However, the book would undoubtedly have sold fewer copies if the title had truly reflected the contents, so it's just as well they hyped the sex part.
Under the impression that I was going to get to read some really naughty stuff, I studied Brown's book with the intensity I would later reserve for pre-calculus. Brown was the friendly, more experienced adult ("Aunt Helen," I liked to think of her) who cut the BS and told you how it really was with respect to a number of important subjects, often contradicting the messages of the dominant 60's culture, as it materialized later in the decade.
Money? Girl, Woodstock or not, you will need it when you are no longer "pristinely young," so get a career and earn it. You will appreciate the freedom and self-respect it brings you. Do the very best you can with whatever abilities you have and the education you can get, and the rewards will carry you through the inevitable bad times that everybody faces. Beauty? Even if you are gorgeous, don't put all your eggs in that basket, because your beauty will fade, and then where will you be if that's the only card you ever played? Love? It is NOT all you need, no matter what the Beatles say. Marriage? Fine, fabulous (Brown herself has been married over forty years), but don't pin all your reasons for living - or your financial survival -- on a guy. Guys are just fallible human beings. Don't give up your ability to stand on your own two feet when you fall in love, because there are no guarantees in life, ever. As Brown eloquently put it, in middle age (or at any time before) a man can leave a woman "like dishes in the sink" if he wants to badly enough. Exercise and a healthy diet? Essential to self-respect. Property ownership (or at least having a fine apartment)? Also essential, particularly when you get older; living in a garage apartment furnished with orange crates is cute when you're twenty, but pathetic when you're forty.
I came of age in the late 60's and early 70's, when the culture was telling us to tune in, turn on, and drop out. Don't conform, don't join the establishment, don't become the man or the woman in the gray flannel suit, don't throw away your life working and forget to smell the roses. Follow your dreams and the universe will magically provide.
This was good advice as far as it went. It sounded so great, and it really was well meant and idealistic and heartfelt...if only it had been true. Unfortunately, it should have been taken with a small but healthy dose of skepticism. Such as, yes, do follow your dreams, but along the way learn some marketable skills, okay? However, the cultural mindset discouraged us from planning for the future, or thinking seriously about money, financial issues, and practical things. We might have known with our minds that the Woodstock generation would eventually get much, much older, but we didn't believe it.
I, however, had Aunt Helen whispering in my ear, so around age thirty I finally rolled up my sleeves, quit hanging out in Austin drinking dark beer and swimming in Barton Springs, and got an advanced degree and a good job -- but did plan things so I still had some time to smell the roses. I couldn't have done it without her advice. At the end of the day, although Brown was not considered a "real" feminist, and in fact came in for a great deal of scorn on that account, she helped me every bit as much as the rest of them.
She wasn't into rhetoric, ideology, or internecine wars with the sisters, she just gave good hardheaded advice about the way things were, like it or not, that's city hall so just deal with it. She liked men. They were people, they had their problems, but generally they were pretty nice. This was quite a relief to those of us who liked them too, even though there were times when it wasn't politically correct to dwell on it. She just didn't believe that liking men required her to give up everything else worthwhile in life, or her ability to provide for herself.
Yeah yeah, like just about everybody else I take issue with her rather Darwinian attitude about carrying on with married men. However, as the writer Molly Ivins would say, she had the guts to tell young women how the cow ate the cabbage. I honor her for that.
Some of her advice, I think, is borderline-psychotic. In this book, Helen Gurley Brown encourages the single woman to "lift" things like lipstick and nailpolish from the dime store. She also stands by "The wine diet"...basically telling girls to drink wine instead of eating, to maintain a lithe figure. This, in my opinion, is insane. She also advises using dry shampoo. But, remember, this was back in a time where women didn't wash their own hair. They would go to the beauty salon once a week for a "wash & set" to lacquer their hair into unmovable shape.
While reading this book, keep in mind that feminism really hadn't swept the country, and affairs between executives and their office assistants was expected...regardless of marital status. I don't think "Sexual Harrasment" became a public issue until after this book was published.
Read this book with a grain of salt. Even though a good chunk of her advice is out-of-date, some of it is sound and rational. It's a great snap-shot of the 1960s pre-feminist mindset.
Cosmo Magazine isn't known to be the pocket book of conservatives, so you can rightfully assume that in this book, no topic is off limits. I am familiar with the saying " don't judge a book by its cover," however I almost fell victim to this mind trap. Not quite by the cover because the cover I absolutely loved. It is flashy va voom pink with yellow text and it boldly states on the top " Before there was Sex and the City there was. . .Sex and the Single Girl." When I started reading Sex and the Single Girl, I almost threw in the towel a few pages in because I thought the book was only about where and how to score a man.
I have mixed feelings about setting out on an adventure for the sole purpose of meeting a man. I like to think that I and all other females(even guys too I presume) have a lot or at least something going for them. That being said it seems to me like when you over advertise that could very well mean that you are doubting the quality of your timbre. From careful observation, I can confidently say that most couples weren't necessarily looking when they found "the one." It sort of just happened because they were in the right place and were ready for that type of commitment.
Some of Gurley tips on how/where single girls can meet men seems a tad aggressive. She suggests going skiing alone;going to beach alone and making sure to get a strategic spot to tan with a very interesting towel(which will also serve as your baIt(a conversation starter); Sitting next to men on the plane, In Gurley's exact words: " I don't have to tell you to be sure to sit next to a man. If you see a lady bearing down and there are still empty seats in the plane, be ruthless. Pile your hatbox, coat and newspapers in the seat next to you and go to sleep immediately. Remove everything and wake up smiling when a man appears." Even Helen Gurley Brown admits that this move is some worth out there. In proto- millennial speak, "the hustle is real." In any case, I am glad that I stuck with this book and read it till the very last page. I simply cannot tell you how much this piece of literature has meant to be. It is not merely a how to pick guys up guide, it is manual for life(in its own right) . I strongly believe that a lot girls will find the information in this book invaluable. If you are in the formative years of your journey as career woman, who better to take advice from than someone who has effortlessly lived the good life for over 50 years on pennies and in moula. Sex and the Single Girl is possibly one of the most honest books I will ever read. While I do not always agree a 100% with any writer, I am often drawn to unadulterated gungho honesty.
Essentially this book can be divided into four sub sections: 1) Where and how to find a man or men 2) The different types of men 3) How to carry yourself as a fabulous single in plenty and in lack 4) How to gravitate towards or build a career from the ground up 4) The conclusion. I reiterated a rather humorous direct quote from Sex and the Single Girl about how/where to find a man. Now on to the types of men.
According to Gurley, there are The Eligibles who are extremely hard to come by also known as The Dreamboat(I believe no explanation is necessary for this category). Then there's The- Eligibles-But- Who- Needs- Them( the weirdies, the creepies, the dullies, the snobs, the hopeless neurotics and the mamas' darlings). The Don Juans. Or in the current day lingua: The PUA(Pick Up Artist)/ Player. The Don Juan is ruthless and sadistic boyish smooth talker. As Gurley says, " A Don Juan is the only man who doesn't squirm when you have hysterics. He considers it a vote of confidence." Every woman knows a DJ or has been associated with one at a point her life. This is a man that you know is not worthy of you( you loss self respect when you are with him). Yet you are too hooked, you can't resist his charm. Other categories are: The Homosexual. The Divorcee. The Younger Man. And The Married Man. The Married Man can be a status elevator. While personally I do not subscribe to school of thought were it is okay to date married men, to each his own. Besides the obvious status elevation(socially/financially) and the career help a married man can offer, he will also spoon feed you praise and appreciation which you rarely receive from single men who are afraid that it will be misconstrued as a marriage proposal.
Granted some of Helen Gurley Brown's opinions are grandiose especially about married men not being off limits. I like the fact that she takes a stand and is unapologetic about it. Her reasoning being that some wives play the field as well, while some simply do not care and that if a wife really did want her husband back the single girl does not stand a chance. Also she says that it is unrealistic to expect to be with just the one person all your life with out drifting at some point. On this we disagree. I believe that some how people who are okay with playing the field some how gravitate towards each other and vice versa. So I guess we are in essence saying the same thing then.
Gurley also speaks in strong terms about how to carry yourself as woman. She emphasizes the need to a health nut and to exercise as often as possible, have a very classy aesthetically pleasing/cozy apartment, know how to throw a killer party on a budget, favour more expensive solid pieces in your wardrobe as opposed to an overload of bargain items, if possible be adopted by slightly older married couple who can smoothen the fall when the need arises as a single girl and the most important piece of advice in the entirety of the book is to be a career woman. Everyone is fascinated by people who are passionate about things. They make more interesting conversationalists and they exude poise. Besides the better your job as a single woman, the better your social standing. She goes on to say that there are 7 reasons women choose not to pursue a career(only the first 4 are valid):
1) You are under 25 and plan to marry and have children as soon as you can. Why start a career?
2) You are 40. Your good but uninspiring job gives you profit- sharing, retirement benefits, a pleasant, comfortable life. Why risk this setup for anything flashier?
3) You are a beachcomberess at heart and nurture no dreams of glory. You'd rather be more relaxed and less income-taxed!
4) You have only moderately good mental equipment.
5) No employer to date has indicated you are anything but a menace to the company. They have kept you on out of compassion. How can you have the gall to hope for a great future?
6) Between your present job and the one you covet as Mink- Trailing Editor, Serious Actress, Buyer Who Goes to Europe Twice a Year yawn such chasms that you can't think how to begin to bridge them.
7) You are not going to risk one whit of femininity by being a career woman.
The last few chapters are an overview of the book. Gurley reckons that most people are hopelessly censored because when we were all children we learnt that the only way to get along with mom and dad was never say what you were feeling/thinking and never letting on that you were the least bit provoked. This she says stifled your imagination and the fear of doing anything adventurous was instilled. To live a full life however, you have to live dangerously. She adds that men should have made up his mind about you in 6months- 1 year of meeting and if not you have encountered a hardened veteran(hahahaha). In addition she says that single women would be surprised to know that their weirdest/most wicked base thoughts/fantasies are not unusual so do away with the guilt and you are not cuckoo unless you act upon them. Gurley raps up this school of thought with another humorous/edgy quote. She says especially with regards to guilt surrounding premarital sex "You may share your desire to make love to an African lion with the Vicar's wife or even the vicar!" Sex is a really complicated part of our society which is often not brought up at all in a lot of social circles especially in conservative ones. It is always refreshing to read an author discuss a topic a lot of people tip toe around with such reckless abandon and yet in a sufficiently sensitive manner.
Sex and the Single Girl is the woman's guide to life. If you are single. Enjoy your singlehood. Don't spend all your precious years pinning for a man when you can be out there finding/creating yourself. Things often take their natural course. If marriage is one of your life goals, while you are single, should you choose to have one affair, a string of affairs including with married men or remain celibate until you are married- it is all on you. As a feminist writer(Christiana Mbakwe)which I routinely follow says "If you really are a Feminist or familiar with Feminism, you'll understand that our agency and autonomy are paramount. Any attempt to erode, define or curtail the agency or autonomy of a woman, is not only regressive but it's restrictive. We have to define for ourselves, what it means to be a feminist. You can be a feminist housewife. A feminist stripper. There are no oxymorons." In conclusion, however you choose to life your life, no one has the right to shame you into their belief system.