George Clooney Is a Bachelor, Kim Kardashian Is a Spinster

It’s official. As Kim Kardashian approaches her 30th birthday in October, she is joining the ranks of women such as Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson: modern-day spinsters. There’s no comparable expression for men, such as 49-year-old unmarried George Clooney, who has traipsed around the globe parading a rotating bevvy of babes. Oh wait, he’s a bachelor.

As Jessica Valenti writes in He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double-Standards Every Woman Should Know:

They’re bachelors, with cool apartments and the freedom to do whatever they want without judgment. Sure, they may catch occasional shit from their mother about “finding the right girl,” but for the most part they’re respected. Single women, on the other hand–especially single women who have the gall to be over thirty–we’re old maids. Spinsters. Desperate to be Bridezillas and moms. There’s no such thing as a happy single  woman. We’re all just wives-in-training or crazy cat ladies. There’s something about unmarried women that society just doesn’t like. That’s why the media is constantly telling us how miserable single women are.

Like celebutante-turned-mega-brand Kardashian. In addition to the standard hoopla about the reality star’s cleavage, her famous curves or her appearance at a variety of red-carpet events, the media has increasingly honed in on her personal status, which mere months ago when from “in a relationship” to “single” after she and football star Reggie Bush called off their on-again, off-again relationship.

Take last month’s group chat with George Lopez (sitting in for Larry King) with most of the major players in the Kardashian-Jenner clan. Naturally, most of the interview questions were directed at Kim, and they kept swinging back to her single status. Lopez made comparisons to Kim’s sisters– Khloe, who married Lakers star Lamar Odom, and Kourtney, who recent gave birth to a child–hoping that she’d admit pangs of jealousy. Is it weird to be the only unattached sister? Is she lonely? Didn’t she think she’d be married by now? Did she want to get married? Blah, blah, blah.

Since ex-husband Brad Pitt paired up with Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston has also been painted as the unlucky-in-love, pathetic-ex envious of Jolie’s fecundity and subsequent hold on Brad. Similarly, following Jessica Simpson’s divorce and subsequent failed relationships, tabloid stories focused on her supposed jealousy of sister Ashlee’s marriage, baby and sleek physique.

In the interview with Lopez, Kardashian didn’t take the bait. She said that while she imagined herself married with children by 30–and still wants that someday–her single status has given her the ability to achieve things she dreamed of. Still, Kardashian is not framed as an powerful, independent woman able to make conscious decisions about her own life, but as desperate and unable to make wise choices. There must be something wrong with a woman if she’s over 30 and single.

Interestingly enough, Kardashian, Aniston and Simpson have all been previously married. Given this, one would logically assume, as my friend Theresa puts it, that “you can’t go back to being a spinster, just like you can’t go back to being a virgin.” Well, apparently, in our culture you can do both. Meanwhile, eternal bachelor George Clooney goes about his single-man business with few questions–because he’s independent, she’s pathetic.

While I have been quite vocal about my issues with Kardashian’s rise to fame, her incessant focus on her body and her mixed message of empowerment while hawking diet pills and seeking cosmetic surgery, I don’t condone the media’s increasing focus on her relationship status and the countless double-standards contained therein. Despite women’s increasing numbers in education and the work force, women are still viewed as “naturally” interested in relationships, especially the heterosexual kind that culminate in marriage and children. Ultimately he’s gonna be a success, she’s gonna be a stay-at-home-mom. In fact, Kim’s focus on her work is presented as one of the major obstacles to finding true love.

Kim’s “pickiness” is also cited as a detriment to obtaining the picture-perfect fairytale romance. If she didn’t set the bar so high, she might finally find a mate. I don’t hear anyone chastising “hot guys” for only dating “hot women. ” There’s a big, fat double-standard when it comes to physical attractiveness and gender. I mean, really, when do men “date down”? Why should Kim have to settle?

I don’t tout Kim as a feminist role model, I don’t think her decision to remain single and focus on her career is a political statement and I don’t see her pointing out the double-standards–but I’m happy to do so.

Photos of Kim Kardashian and a waxy George Clooney from Flickr.com users Kalumba2009 and cliff1066 through Creative Commons License 2.0

Comments

  1. Exactly Melanie!

  2. Excellent article, Melanie!

  3. Well said, Melanie!

  4. Great article! It's always nice to read pieces like this that point out these double standards that are so embedded into our society.

  5. heatheraurelia13 says:

    I hate Pop Culture

  6. Fantastic piece. This is a fine example of being able to look at a situation from a different angle! Despite my own marital status, I still don't feel that one should be married as a mark of success or as a means to "be something" in our current society, and I certainly don't feel that that singledom is wrong in anyway. It's exhausting being accosted in the checkout lines by headlines declaring breakups, infidelity, etc. It's annoying how people have suddenly changed the way they speak to me at my son's school now that I'm married–they're nicer. Ridiculous, if you ask me. However, at the same time, I feel that this is also an issue of ageism. Even though I'm married, I'm 39 and still negatively impacted by the implication that beauty ends at 25. I may not be called a spinster, but I'm still included in the not-quite-pretty-anymore generation of women in a society that touts youth.

  7. Very well written, Melanie. Many times, I have found myself thinking, "…poor Jen Aniston". Why? Then, when I turn my brain on and logically think about it, I know she is fine, and doesn't need my sympathy. But it's true: society does DEEPLY ingrain in us a sense that if you aren't married, you must really want to be. And it's such a shame that the media loves to make "examples" of these women, because I think it inevitably affects the way people see them, including potential suitors. They are depicted as desperate, sad, lonely, etc. Yet, they don't look like any of the above to me.
    Kim is quickly going to become similar to Jennifer Aniston, and I hope she, too, is strong enough to weather the media craziness. I agree with you that Kim isn't my most favorite female role model out there, and frankly, I think she is harming more than she's helping, but I am glad you took the time to write about the subject nonetheless.

  8. I hadn't thought of it like that before and you made me think on this double standard… Your comments about how these women who've been married before are still dubbed with the image of "desperate" and "single" made me think of how first of all this is a type of Puritanical thought process, and we live in America where there's deep Puritan roots that have always been trying to conquer other religious roots. How Puritan thought asserts that sex is for reproduction. This thinking often angrily asserts that "queer" or "gay" "types"are wrong because sex should only be with a man with a woman since they can procreate.

    Then I go back to these women who're allegedly having sex without procreation in mind and it makes sense that our society has a problem with these "types". Our society overall likens sex not for procreation as evil without thinking that perhaps it is truly all for procreation, finding the right one for procreation, procreation of a good family, procreation of a beautiful society. Procreation is taken very literally in our society. Thanks for triggering these thoughts in me.

  9. And that possible because the white, heterosexual male is our society's norm, they're excluded from such judgements?

  10. Theresa Senn Utt says:

    I speak from the point of view of the recently married. I was single for 40 years wearing the "Bridget Jones" badge to every social occasion, dinner parties, holidays, weddings, and bar mitzvahs. You name it and I was there basking in the glow of worry, concern and pity from friends, family, and acquaintances. We live in a society where this status is tolerated, but certainly not celebrated when it comes to women. To be fair, this new husband of mine experienced similar feelings never having been married either. But guys don't sit around watching Monday night football fielding inquiries and advice about their personal life. The fact of the matter is if you haven't found a life mate by a "certain age" your perceived as irrevocably damaged or not trying hard enough. Society is more supportive of a failed marriage than successful singlehood. I am admittedly happy and content in this new status as wife. I am obviously not anti marriage. I do however believe that there is nothing wrong, incomplete, or conspicuously missing from an individual who isn't married. This stigma that surrounds unmarried adult women is damaging and outdated whether or not you have a publicist or carry a designer purse.

  11. Hayley Solarz says:

    Like the commenter above, I've felt sorry for Jennifer Aniston. Sadly it appears that the media is succeeding in hammering these double standards — we see Clooney's life as enviable and Aniston's as pathetic.

  12. A fact that we forget is that marriage is really hard and not everyone should get, or be, or stay married. People should just work on being the best person they want to be with or without someone on their arm.

  13. Thanks for the excellent comments, everyone!

  14. Dalal Chamas says:

    I completely agree with your post and view point as I avidly watch Keeping up with the Kardashians. I do feel however that she could be a closeted feminist since conservatives and some feminists may shoot down her opinions since she acknowledges that being single allows her to achieve more but advertises diet pills at the same time. Nonetheless the media and tabloids are always after Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston, and Kim Kardashian to see what they are doing.

  15. I know the double standard is wrong but theres a big difference with the way George Clooney carries himself and Kim Kardashian.Kim has had a sex tape and has dated: The singer Ray J, The rapper The Game, MVP Ben Rothlesburger, Championship winning Reggie Bush, and Cowboys Wide Receiver Miles Austin. Those are the ones I know! I can only begin to imagine her past history with high profiled people.

    • You know the double-standard is wrong- that is where the conversation ends. I have been extremely critical of her but don't think that justifies the double-standards. Plus, from what I can see, you're now judging her for her dating history, adding yet another double-standard: he's a stud, she's a slut.

  16. Great article! I'm so glad someone is pointing out the ridiculous double standards. The media never takes a second to wonder that maybe these women are perfectly happy without a man. I wonder if a talkshow or any TV program has covered this issue of double standards; I would love to see this talked about!

  17. How about, "completely off-base" and "trying to generate controversy"? Yes there are double standards, but this is not one of them. Unless I missed biology class, men don't have menopause. If women want to have kids, they have to beat that deadline. Men, for the most part, don't have a deadline and can father children at any time. Yes, fertility does decrease over time, but that's true for women prior to menopause as well. Yes, sometimes men lose fertility – but that's true for young women as well. And yes, we've got drugs for both sexes. A true double standard is the slut/stud divide. But that's a post for a different time.

  18. Yasaman Aryanpanah says:

    I loved this article! The connection between Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston, and Jessica Simpson to George Clooney was perfectly explained. I had never realized this double standard before. I am glad it was pointed out so clearly. Our society definitely has some bias views regarding these topics and many times penetrates our heads with the notion that these women are "desperate" or "sad" because they are not married.

  19. Yvonne McClaine says:

    No matter what a woman does when it comes to marriage are being single the standard for a man is different than for a woman. It just goes to show that a man can date as many woman as he want to but if a woman does than she is consider less than a woman. Like the article is suggesting poor Kim and Jennifer they seem to have bad luck when it comes to men. Forget that they both have been married once how does that make them a spinster. Isn't a spinster a woman who has never been married, go figure. Ladies we can not forget these standards were set long ago and the media is ran by men.

    • Yvonne McClaine says:

      It is no wonder that an article of this nature would surface when it comes to men being allowed to date as many women as possible with no negative feedback but when it comes to a woman being single after a certain age she becomes a spinster. I thought that a spinster was a woman by society terms who has never been married. Isn't this what we call double standard when a man can be single without being married but a woman can't.

  20. One of my favorite points you make is how when Kim was in her relationship with Reggie, she was, for the most part, praised in the media for her beauty and brand building that she has accomplished, and her personal life was never the center of attention, but now that she's single, her lack of relationship is the only thing being talked about. It seems that to the media, unless a woman has a man in her life, all of her success is no longer noticed or credible. Great post!

  21. I always felt like the media portrayed it as, "she's not married because no one wants to marry her, but he's not married because he didn't want to get married." He chooses to be married, but she has no choice. That always annoyed me. Why should the man get to choose when he and his gf get married, especially since she has a biological clock to take into consideration and he can have them at any age?

  22. Giselle Abalos says:

    Great article. Double standards suck!!

  23. Karina Orozco says:

    HIGH FIVE!!!! Great job! seriously! I'm only 20 and my younger sister is in a serious relationship and all my girl cousins are too! Most of the time I constantly hear from EVERYONE "when are you going to bring a boyfriend over?" It get's sooo annoying that they can't see I have other priorities. I for one don't see the issue in woman wanting to have children and a family late in life! I don't plan on starting that stage till at least 30 and many ask "why so late?" yet for a man it's natural since he needs to be settled in to be the provider. I hope exposing these issues makes a difference and people begin to realize that their isn't anything wrong with a woman who wants to focus on her career and not be a homemaker! We shouldn't judge ANY ONE based on personal issues such as relationships. Great job in defending her even though you don't approve of what she represents at times. :D

  24. It's so sad that on top of that fact that the media keeps emphasizing that women like Kim Kardashian are "single and lonely", they also play games of matchmaker to find possible celebrity matches with Kardashian. It's as if the media can't accept Kardashian and other celebrity women being alone without some negative names for them.

  25. Elizabeth Pool says:

    2.Interestingly enough I was browsing through an OK! magazine the other day where it said that Kim had just broken up with some other guy and it said it was due to their time schedules not working out. When I read that for some reason I thought that maybe the magazine says all that because they expect her to give up everything she does to be happy with a man. It infuriates me to see that the media antagonizes women when they are not in a relationship and labels them as ‘bitter’ or ‘jealous’ because they are not in a relationship. Maybe these women don’t want to settle and if men like George Clooney can fool around, why can’t women? This world is full of obnoxious double standards!

  26. Debora R. says:

    I definitely agree that "There’s a big, fat double-standard when it comes to physical attractiveness and gender. I mean, really, when do men “date down”? Why should Kim have to settle?" It seems that with everything there is always a double-standard with men always being the hero and women somehow being a failure or a villain. It' s always the same message that women should get married soon, settle if you have to, but for a man, no- It's cool to be the single bachleor. Also, one of the things that really stood out to me as I was reading this article was how for Jessica Simpson and Kim Kardashian, they were always asked about or focused on if they were jealous of their sisters who are married and/or mothers. Really? That's all you focus on?

  27. Kim is a business women who has been very successful in her career, she has branded herself and its sad so the media only focuses on her relationship status, what about how she has become this mega superstar! although the reasons she became famous are not very creative and artistic ways, she still did it and is surely happy that her dreams have come true.

  28. Sarah Sadik says:

    Even though Kim Kardashian is not a feminist role model we can learn a lot from the negative comments made by the media about her being single while the positive comments on George Clooney being single. This is something not noticed in our society because it seems so natural and normal.

  29. Reading this article made me realize that I should be very thankful, since my mom's hopes/dreams for me is not solely about getting married and settling down; she wants me to pursue a career of my choice. It is unjust for our society to create such pressure and standards for women. This article also reminded me of another double standard between men in women. It is that is okay for a man to have several girlfriends/hookups, for it makes them a "playa," yet a woman who has many is considered a slut.

  30. Sharlene G. (wmst30) says:

    This is great post! Really illustrated many of the double standards that are faced by women all the time.

  31. Alicia Martinez says:

    I love this post. How can a woman 's life who is filled with success can be viewed as sad? they first question antone asks me when they see me for the first time after a few weeks or months is not how are you,but rather who are you dating?..I HATE THIS QUESTION.Im dating no one focusing in my career.

  32. Why is Kim Kardashian getting a wax figure? Like delyla said, she's successfully branded herself. But her career wouldn't have gone big if it wasn't for her sex tape and her dad being OJ Simpson's attorney.

  33. Sabrina Curry says:

    I completely agree with this! People always see single older men as studs and glorify them but single older women tend to always get a bad rep if theyre not in a relationship by 30. Its like your relationship status determines your worth as a person in a sense as you get older and its a pretty pathetic thought.

  34. It is upsetting to see that even in the 21st century, there is such an emphasis for the woman to get married as fast as possible and for the male to be a bachelor as long as possible. Purely the difference in titles of a single woman and a single man demonstrate how a singe woman is looked down upon, while a single man is adorned. These double standards develop a hostile society for the women that do not follow the rules of the masses and instead decide to do whatever makes them more happy. It is believed that all women are supposed to be wives and mothers and when a woman decides to not follow this path, she is looked down upon.

  35. Tanisha Ahluwalia says:

    I love this post, I would have never though of George CLooney and Kim kardashian in such a way. Its true though why is it ok for George Clooney to be a bachelor even though he is in my mid 40's or so but why is Kim critisized and pressured to be in a relationship because she is 30 and in our society thats considered "over the edge old" We do see these women as pathetic and its sad because it shouldnt be seen like that. They are strong independent women and whether they choose to be single or not should not matter, they are living their own life, They should not be judged in the media like this.

  36. Sharon R. says:

    Sexism and double-standards are still very much present today, unfortunately, even though women have gained so many rights. But I think its a good thing that Kim is being picked on with this issue. It's unusual to think of the most desired woman by so many men to be single at her age, and it can send the message that not being married with kids at 30 maybe isn't such a bad thing. Her situation could possibly make the idea more acceptable in peoples' eyes.
    …hopefully.

  37. Ashlyn Barnett says:

    I never would have imagined myself on Kim Kardashian's side or ever feeling sorry for her, but the shit she is taking due to stupid double standards makes me actually feel sympathetic towards her. I'm glad she didn't take the bait when George Lopez was fishing for her to burst out in tears and admit how lonely her life is. I'll admit, she is stronger than I have given her credit for. Although, it would be nice if she was the one pointing out the bullshit double standards, especially since her voice is heard all around the world. I almost feel like she doesn't quite realize the complete unfairness of her situation, or at least realize the reason why it's unfair. I think she should take WS 30.

  38. David Ruano says:

    I really the article because it sheds light on a very existing idea in American society. It affects women more than men. What is that idea? It is the notion that if a women is over 30 years old and single, then there is something wrong with her. I have known women in my community who are frowned upon if she stays single with no children. On the other hand, a man who has had many women in his life is not as scrutinized. Instead he is praised or seen as a "stud" . Absolutely that there are alot of double standards in society. "Marriage" and "kids" are the subjects of discussion more often than not.

  39. Jennifer S. says:

    Great article. Because I have been a witness to the constant emphasis on marriage and children at a young age it has become a conception I am very familiar with. Although my parents are not the major advocates of such a notion, my sisters, who are "at that age," are constantly bombarded with questions as to why they are not at that point in their lives. However, I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by strong, independent women who make it very clear that marriage and children is not the sole purpose of female existence and not the primary goal for all women. Although I am not Kardashian's biggest fan, it is interesting that she is criticized for being single at age 30 rather than being applauded for making 50,000 dollars to show up at a party for 15 minutes. This just goes to show that marriage and children are such fundamental characteristics engraved in individual's minds when it comes to a woman. However, if men are praised for being eligible bachelors at age 50 and women are condoned for being single at age 30, how are women expected to even meet these standards?

  40. It is probaply true, but in wikipedia says:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012

  41. Nicole Sooferian says:

    I agree completely that there is a double-standard when it comes to relationships and gender. When a woman goes from relationship to relationship, they make it seem like she is desperate at finding love. But when a guy (like George Clooney) has several relationships after another, it is completely okay and he is considered to be some kind of hero.

  42. This double standard bugs me the most. I think the pressure to get married before your “too old” is drilled into girls’ minds from a very young age. We are afraid to reach thirty and be unmarried because that would mean something is wrong with us. “Stop being so picky.” YOU HAVE TO BE PICKY WHEN YOUR CHOOSING SOMEONE TO SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE WITH. People like George Clooney and Hugh Heffner are praised while Kim Kardashian is looked down upon and rushed into getting married because God forbid she reaches forty and is still unmarried.

  43. Tandis Shams Fard says:

    Thank you for your input. It kills me that these double standards still exist today. I mean come on! Have we not realized that men and women are suppose to be equal by now? I agree that Kim probably is not remaining single because of “women’s right” reasons but it is refreshing to see that it is being done. However, I guess some more attacks were made and she is married today. Interesting if we could find out if it was because of true love or just for the sake of getting the media off her back.

  44. Natalie Hoorfar says:

    Very well put! I think that honing in on people like Kim kardashian, who’s constantly in the public eye, is the smartest way to point out how deeply embedded we are in the double standard. It’s completely true.

  45. Rosemary A says:

    Couldn’t have been said this any better! This double standard is so sad…what if the woman has different priorities or just couldn’t find the right guy yet?!?
    Society is constantly pressuring women to look and act a certain way or else they’re considered to be shameful. I come from a traditional Persian household where it is believed that the girl needs to be married early (definitely before hitting 27) or else there’s something wrong with her, but for the men its okay to get married late because they need to be settled down and the million other accepted excuses which they have. I am totally against this mindset; we shouldn’t be judging someone based on their personal choice…there is nothing wrong with a girl who would rather focus on her career or whatever other priorities she has set for herself before she gets married. Furthermore, men should be considered as the “bachelor” and cool because they aren’t married yet…
    This will only cause women to get married just to take off all this unnecessary pressure of their backs!

  46. Eleazar Capuz says:

    As a male looking in on the certain categories that women are placed into in modern society, I see it as a bit disheartening in the sense that this particular “idea” has not changed for hundreds of years. Women are looked upon as being mothers, housewives, etc., and not really seen as people who can hold their own weight without needing a male figure in their lives. I think that if a woman decides that she wants to be single, or she just doesn’t have a significant other, then they shouldn’t be scrutinized for it. That decision is made by that person and that person alone, they shouldn’t have to explain their reasons for it, neither should they be placed in the stereotypical “housewife” category. However, I still feel that in today’s society more of a breakthrough has been made for women straying away from that mindset, they may still want a family and get married, but at the same time they still have careers and have aspirations to be more.

  47. Willemina v. says:

    My daughter is only 20-years old and is already questioned about why she doesn’t have a boyfriend. She is gorgeous, smart, and gets along very well with both females and males alike, so that’s not the problem. In fact, calling it a problem, is the problem. Why does society tell us that we are not “complete” unless we have a man in our lives? My daughter’s response to those who question her choice to keep her life simple is, “I’ve got too much to do and when I’m not doing it I want to have fun!” She is in her junior year at UCLA and plans to follow that with an MBA along the lines of Wharton or Cornell. She is very well organized, knows exactly what she wants, and will not let anything get in her way … even a boy! She’s not old enough to be called a Spinster, but is old enough to have her sexual-orientation questioned … there always has to be a reason why a woman doesn’t have a man in her life! In my daughter’s case she simply realizes that she is too young to navigate a relationship while also trying to reach her goals. She knows she has plenty of time to find a man but that right now is the only time she has for herself. Personally, I think this is evident of a young woman who has a healthy attitude about life and knows that she doesn’t need a man to validate who she is. Society though, especially as she gets older, will tell her otherwise.

    (I really appreciate what Eleazar wrote in the post above … the world certainly needs more people like him!)

  48. Loreal Haber says:

    It is now the year 2012 and we are still dealing with this double standard! I am in no way a fan of Kim Kardashian (I personally don’t agree with some of her choices as someone in the entertainment industry) but I do agree that Kim or any other 30 year old women who isn’t married be objected to this double standard. Kim recently just got divorced after 72 days of marriage, yeah you read correctly 72. From watching her train wreck of a reality show I saw how fast she was to marry Kris Humphries. I’ve never seen someone so desperate to get married. The thing is we can blame our messed up society who tells us that we as women need to find a rich man and be stay at home mom’s with a lot of kids.
    I myself used to ask the question when I was around 16-22 “Why don’t I have a boyfriend?” all I would do was look for a boy and be completely boy crazy. It wasn’t until last year I stopped caring whether or not I had a man in my life. Funny thing is when you stop looking that’s when you find it.

  49. It seems we have made very little progress over the years. Not one to follow convention, my mother was married at the ripe old age of 25 in 1941. She waited until after she graduated from college, and had attained a good job before considering marriage. At that time she was not given credit for her good sense to wait, but rather considered an “old maid.”

    I, on the other hand, to appease my mother, married very young – barely 19 years old – because my mother could not condone my living with my boyfriend in the 1960’s without marriage. Had it not been my mother’s insistence, and against my better judgment, I too would not have married before the age of 30, nor married the man I was living with. The marriage did not last although we did have two wonderful children together. It was 18 years before I married again, this time on my terms.

    Now, here we are in 2012, 71 years later, still trying to push women into the same old box of ‘marrying at an early age.’ Fortunately, women are choosing to marry later and not allowing themselves to be shoved into society’s perpetual early marriage box. In fact, statistically, fewer women are choosing to marry at all, despite society’s push for the status quo.

    Congratulation to Kardashian for standing her ground during Lopez’s interview, by not taking the bait, and squelching the drama he continually tried to create. I too an not a fan of Kardashian, nor do I believe she is a feminist, but I do believe that by standing her ground on this issue, she helped shine a light on the feminist’s view of inequality created by double standards between the genders.

  50. Jonteen R says:

    i think kim kardashian is perfect role model especially to single woman. she has accomplished so much in the past couple years and will not give up no matter how much people hate on her. in my eyes she is a very strong woman.

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