In solitary pursuit: singles, sex war and the search for love, 1977–1983

Strimpel, Zoe (2017) In solitary pursuit: singles, sex war and the search for love, 1977–1983. Cultural and Social History, 14 (5). pp. 691-715. ISSN 1478-0038

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This article suggests that by breaking away from the couples-centric lens normally deployed by historians of intimacy, and instead focusing on the experience of single people, historians gain fresh insight into a key transition point in the late twentieth century history of relationships. Singles, particularly those actively seeking partners, were particularly hard-pressed to digest the implications of a decade of sexual rights campaigns, because, more explicitly than couples, they had to articulate what they wanted out of the opposite sex. In paying close attention to the articulations and experiences of singles, we gain fresh purchase on how the sexual legacies of the 1970s began to be digested, resisted and repurposed. This article makes a case for doing so through Singles, a magazine that brought together the experiences of a cross-section of mostly heterosexual, unmarried Britons at a moment of significant sexual reordering. Examination of the Singles debates around dating and gender suggests that the contemporaneous efforts of ordinary people to process the new sexual languages of the 1970s were more intense and conflicted than the existing historiography has yet allowed, and that much of the sexual antagonism felt by men and women facing each other across the lonely hearts pages stemmed from gendered anxieties about economic standing.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Depositing User: Zoe Strimpel
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2017 13:10
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2018 15:07

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