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"Rowing one's own boat": the centrality of work in the world of single women

Several notions attributed to single women in social theory and in the common sense refer to some ideas proclaimed by feminism. Education and qualified, paid work are considered the privileged path to conquering autonomy. When broadened, this autonomy would allow a set of women, mostly those from the urban middle classes, greater opportunities to make choices, to make decisions by themselves and even to break with the old stereotypes of "spinsters". To understand how notions associated with the "independent woman" and their paradoxes are intertwined requires a review of some ideas that marked the emergence and the consolidation of feminism as a political movement of "modernity" in its expansion from the 1960s on. In this article, I examine the connection between education and professionalization and non-marriage in the present day, taking into account narratives of middle class, childless single women living alone.

Gender; Feminism; Work; Single Women; Marriage

Núcleo de Estudos de Gênero - Pagu Universidade Estadual de Campinas, PAGU Cidade Universitária "Zeferino Vaz", Rua Cora Coralina, 100, 13083-896, Campinas - São Paulo - Brasil, Tel.: (55 19) 3521 7873, (55 19) 3521 1704 - Campinas - SP - Brazil