Single White Female (SWF) in the South

I have lived half of my life in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. I have lived the other half of my life in the Midwest, Northern, and Western parts of this United States. My experiences in the South trouble me as an older, single, white female because they indicate a segment of the population that is losing choices, impact, and respect in economic, political, and educational arenas in this geographical region.

When I was a teenager at the University of Alabama, my “boyfriend” thought I should skip my classes and not worry about my grades because now I had a beau. (We did not wind up together.) As a divorced woman, I returned to Georgia and South Carolina from Arizona and finished my degree in a class that held two white women. (I was one of those women.) SWFs in this part of the country are not encouraged greatly for higher education unless their families and money support it.  The traditional roles are still encouraged even if you have letters to put to your name.

There is nothing wrong with traditional roles, but as a married woman I was encouraged to become a kindergarten teacher because it was “appropriate” for women to concern themselves mainly with children. This did not just come from my husband, but also from his employer in South Carolina. (My husband was a high school coach and literature teacher.) We did not have children of our own, and the principle of the school was looking for an “appropriate” career for me. Before I was married, I worked in a Learning Disabilities center in Georgia for children with problems in school, and not more than one male ever worked there in three and a half years while I was employed as a receptionist/secretary. In fact, most of the employed staff were SWFs (except for one or two married women).

I have been in South Carolina for several years now, working first for Boeing and then as an independent Freelance Technical Writer. The website I was visiting for dating purposes posted a false profile of me (using my picture) as a lesbian. My job in South Carolina at Boeing was high profile, low position respectively within the corporate structure. Paid a decent commensurate wage, I faced several instances of personal animosity that I can contribute directly to being a SWF holding a career-oriented position.  

Women’s suffrage culminated in 1920. I am wondering when I time-warped back before women could achieve respected, viable answers in society and became someone that can understand what women must have felt like. African American women have a large voice in the Southern Hemisphere. They are gaining ground in education, hitting harder over political impetus and standing proud of their achievements. SWFs are not finding themselves so well off.  Women in the South do own businesses. They do have education and they do find good lives. On the other hand, they are still fighting the war against female stereotypes and demands of the pre-suffrage movement.






Running Away

Complete freedom is completely irresponsible. The dream of complete freedom is an illusion. I value my freedoms: the choices still available, responsible or not, that I am free to make without hindrance. Some would argue that if my choices are “wrong” or more irresponsible than responsible, I should not be allowed these freedoms as they must be supported by some sort of answer that allows the irresponsibility. I disagree. In an adult world, some would argue that we pay our own prices for our own decisions and that when we do not pay prices others must pay for us. I disagree again. There is not always a “price tag” on every freedom.  I may walk on the left hand side of the street or the right hand side of the street with no repercussions whatsoever. This does not mean I cannot be called out by a policeman for jaywalking in a heavily trafficked area and be asked to pay a fine. However, I might jaywalk in such an area and come across unscathed with no traffic problems resulting and no policeman writing me a ticket because I was not seen. There are good reasons for laws. We need to live together- space is not unlimited. Laws create the best possible environment, taking the environment into account, for all those in the environment to co-exist with the greatest amount of freedoms left to them on both personal and societal levels.  There are vast differences between societal, personal, and basic humanitarian rights. To live more free is to achieve levels of choice in all three areas.

Unfortunately, the idea that we should enjoy more freedom usually leads to some form of running away.  I know, from my own experiences in life, that running away does not result in freedom. In fact, it usually worsens an already restricted situation and causes a need for too much of a price tag to regain freedoms. When we find ourselves needing other choices, different responsibilities, and new environments it is necessary to affect changes instead of abandoning all we have in the present situation to chase a dream of illusion where freedom is found. This is not easy and at times can seem impossible when faced with limited resources.  Human kindness, social recourse and economic viability are all necessary elements in achieving and maintaining our precious freedoms on all levels. Complete freedom demands no ties, no commitments, no necessities to take care of, and no loyalties. However, choices come with a capability and a willingness to establish ties, make commitments, attend to necessities, and form our loyalties. We cannot obtain freedom by running away. We can run away from losing our freedoms.

The “Star Spangled Banner” declares the United States the “land of the free” and the “home of the brave”. The two ideas must go hand in hand. I believe in keeping our freedoms. I have tried running away. Our dream in this nation is alive because we have choices- whatever we decide to choose.