Your Voice Matters (and Coming into Contact with Reality)

A lot of people are saying, “It’s not that bad,” “Let’s wait and see.” Some men I know are telling me “everything is going to be OK.” I personally don’t want to be told that everything is going to be OK right now. This is the power of denial. When someone shows you who he is, believe him. If someone mocks a person with disabilities, believe that person is cruel. If that person lies and say they never mocked the person with disabilities, we are dealing with a pathological liar.

I think I have a high capacity to look at the terrible shit that is happening in our country now because of the commitment I made to healing my own shit about four years ago, and this is what I am writing about in my current book project and what I help some coaching clients with. Healing from sexual abuse or assault. Sometimes people didn’t come to me with that but it comes up as we talk about other parts of life.

As I am reviewing a draft for a class where I need to submit 125 passages and an outline, I see a lot of the passages I wrote about my own life apply to this political situation too, the desire to throw your whole life up in the air in a radical way because everything feels so shitty (what some Trump voters wanted to do, voting for Trump for them was like throwing a grenade, and I did that in my own personal way years ago), the natural human tendency toward denial to stay comfortable (what many liberals such as Jon Stewart have been doing by saying, It’s not so bad, and what I did for decades), the need to look the truth in the face to make change and heal (that’s our only way forward, being real about what is going on).

I am writing about a churn in my life, and I think we are going through a churn in our country.

Here’s one passage that makes me feel this.

“I was in denial for a long time. It was too painful to look at the past. So I just kept moving, making lists, making plans, next date, next man. Until someday the fun catches up with me and I realize I never actually got to connect with anyone because I realize that I never unraveled whatever painful things that were holding me back. If we never look at the truth, we will repeat the same patterns. I would never suggest that everyone should move to another continent, but I would suggest that everyone take the courage to look at whatever they have been avoiding looking at. The thing you have been avoiding does seem to hold the key to freedom. What I would say much later is that the churn is for people who need a radical change in life, and the churn is what will bring their subterranean problems to the surface. There were things in me that were so deeply embedded that the problems were not obvious, what was causing me to be so unhappy, to believe I was unlovable, and to get lost in a job that I didn’t want, and it was through submitting to the wild ride of the churn that I could even discover what was actually even going on in my life. In essence, a churn is not to solve all your problems but to even know what your problems are. This is a big step. In order to heal you need to look at the thing you have most been avoiding looking at. In that thing you avoid the most, that’s where you find the path forward.”

Many will deny reality.  In personal growth work and politics I believe that the path forward is always about coming into contact with reality, painful as it may be. Denial is very seductive but we cannot afford denial. And there’s a lot of fertility in shit. We need shit to fertilize our gardens.
  
Believe in yourself, believe in your voice. Quirkyalone is permission to take up space in the world whether you are single, coupled, gay, straight, bi, trans, disabled, any race, any religion. You as an individual have a dignity that is sacred. The worst instincts of people are being unleashed and magnified by a pseudo-leader who has legitimized cruelty and hate. But your dignity exists and it cannot be taken away.
 
This vision of the world being advanced by Trump would take us back 50 years before the civil rights and women’s movement. Quirkyalone emerged in a historical context where women have economic freedom. Where we learned we could choose relationships out of desire and not because of our need to be in them for economic survival. The world that Trump is advocating and his supporters long for is a patriarchal world where the white man is at the head of the table, and he saves us (and jobs) with his so-called strength. It doesn’t matter what his policies are or that they change constantly because his supporters trust him as the white male savior. We have come too far over the last 50 years to give up our dignity and go silent.
 
Your voice matters. It matters now more than ever. Every individual voice adds up to a vaster chorus of people calling for kindness and sanity.

With love,
Sasha

5 Reasons to Vote with Your Vagina (Men Too!)

From Pussy Riot's amazing new music video "Straight Outta Vagina"

From Pussy Riot’s amazing new music video “Straight Outta Vagina”

Susan Sarandon says she wouldn’t vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton because she doesn’t vote with her vagina. But what’s wrong with voting with your vagina? It seems like a great way to vote to me!

Here are five reasons that I invite you to vote with your vagina. And if you’re a man, go ahead and pretend you have a vagina! We women are asked to act like men all the time, especially at work, so hey, try it out, just for a day, see how it goes and let us know. My friend and fellow author Robin Rinaldi, author of The Wild Oats Project, says, “I’m proudly voting with my vagina. If I could get it to hold a pen or pull a lever, I would. Well, maybe not, but you get the point.”

Maybe you can’t hold a pen with your vagina or imaginary vagina, but here are some reasons why you can proudly vote with the intention of your vagina, at the least.

1) Your vagina knows things. Just ask it how it feels.
The vagina is a surprisingly strong place for intuition. Voting with your head and your heart too, but don’t leave your vagina out. Ask it! See what it says. I consult my vagina on all kinds of decisions. I just ask it, how do you feel? I wait and see if it purrs. I’m serious. I am not kidding! I’m writing about this in Wet!

2) When you vote with your vagina, you are voting for safety of all vaginas.
The vaginas of all women need to feel safe in order to walk through life healthy, happy, and to feel turned on. The Orange Cheeto who boasts of grabbing pussies doesn’t feel like the candidate who would give us that safety. My vagina for one instantly snaps close to the suggestion of a Donald presidency. No!!! Some people would say, well, Jill Stein also has a vagina but Jill Stein is not going to win and protect us from the threat of a Donald presidency.

3) The vagina is the source of human life–it must have something to say
The vagina has tremendous creative power. It’s where all human life comes from. This is literal and symbolic You don’t have to be a mother to feel the creative power of your vagina. As the proud owner of a vagina, you can give birth to many things in life–creative projects, gifts, communities, friendships, and your life itself.

4) The vagina likes pleasure and a Donald presidency does not feel pleasurable.
One woman mentioned that her vagina would prefer George Clooney in 2016. That’s a nice thought but if we must be real, a Donald presidency does not feel pleasurable. It feels terrifying. Terror disrupts the nervous system and puts us on high alert all the time. So if we are interested in pleasure we must do everything we can to avoid this fate.

5) It’s high time we have a vagina in the White House.
Since 1789, there have been 43 U.S. presidents. There has never been a vagina in the White House presidential office. Malcolm Gladwell explains here why people don’t like Hillary Clinton by saying what I have been saying over and over again. The answer is simple. The answer is sexism. The right wing has been going after Hillary since the 90s when she dared to say she wanted to fix health care and do more than bake cookies. No other First Lady ever was so bold to take on real policy projects and not diminish herself. She went on to become a Senator and a Secretary of State, and her approval ratings are high when she’s doing her job and low when she seeks power. Why? In 2016, people are still very uncomfortable with an ambitious woman. The dirty secret which is not a secret at all is that the US is still uncomfortable with women in leadership positions. That’s why people chant “lock her up” on the basis of nothing and slap bumper stickers about the size of Hillary’s bum on their car.

To move our country forward though it’s time to tap the power of our vaginas. And someone’s going to have to be first. Hillary is the one with tremendous grit to withstand so many attacks and keep going. And she’s tremendously qualified.

So, will your vagina be voting tomorrow? What does it have to say?

Before you vote, be sure to watch this new music video “Straight Outta Vagina” from Pussy Riot. It’s amazing!

PS. If you like me want to avoid four years of Donald, there’s something you can do to help. Make some phone calls right now, even ten minutes makes a difference when we all chip in. I endorse this calling tool for phone banking. This tool is great, I made calls using it Saturday. As my fellow author Sara Eckel (It’s Not You), who also writes on singleness, has put it, using this tool is a great way to alleviate election-eve anxiety.

PPS. I don’t normally do a lot of political endorsing through my platform as an author and coach. But this election is extraordinary we are looking at a situation where democracy is in danger and dictatorship is a possibility. States that were thought to be firewalls for Hillary Clinton like New Hampshire are now in play. Itt’s time to pull out all the stops to steer the country in the right direction. Vote, vote, vote, and make calls tonight if you are inspired. And the rest of the world, thanks for pulling for us!

Sex and the Single Quirkyalone: How to talk openly and honestly about sex . . . before you have sex

If you are a quirkyalone, and you’re looking for someone to be your life partner, you may find yourself single for an extended period: months or yearssssss. How do you keep touch, sexuality and sensuality present and alive in your life while you are single? How can we be “wet” when we are single?

To answer these questions, I’m taking a little tiptoe into the world of podcasting with this podcast with the great Carolyn Arnold, a social scientist, educational researcher, and friend. At the age of 58, Carolyn started a 50 Dates project to find her life partner. She found him by date 49! I’ve interviewed Carolyn about what she learned about loving herself while she went through the ups and downs of dating here. What’s interesting about Carolyn too is that she had a lot of lovers while she was looking for love because sex and touch are important to her. She didn’t want to be celibate and she knew she wanted healthy touch in her life.

In this podcast, I interview Carolyn about how to have lovers and have sexuality be present in your life when you are single and looking for a life partner, and don’t want to be celibate. How do you avoid the pitfalls of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, fantasy/illusion (I thought this was the start of something but he never called!), crossed boundaries, doing more than you really want to do, and more. In essence, we’re talking about how to have clear communication before you get busy and have clear access to your yes and your no at all times. We give you some scripts you can use even.

Carolyn is working on a memoir about her 50 First Dates Project, and in this podcast, we talk about what she learned about having having sex and lovers while looking for love. Carolyn has gone to many Northern California alternative relationship and sexuality seminars and she has learned a lot about how to set boundaries and communicate what you want with a partner in open, honest, loving communication. I’ve been on a parallel journey, and so Carolyn and I have often talked over her kitchen table about how to have conversations about sex when you are dating.

Here are some things we talk about in this conversation:
• How to have a conversation about sex before (or while) clothes come off to avoid misunderstandings and disappointment. We give you some scripts you can use to open a conversation about sex. In essence, the conversation starts with the question, “Do we want to be sexual?” Carolyn thinks you can have this conversation before anything happens. I think it’s a little more natural after kissing.
• The “monogamous mindset of dating” (if you start dating and quickly become exclusive, you can get awfully attached when you start having sex, but are you sure this is really the person you want to be with?)
• Being truly at choice in sex at every moment and why this is important to have access to your yes and your no at any moment, and never feel you have to finish what you started (you have to be able to say no so that you can truly say yes)
• What is sex (is it just intercourse, or can we have a more expansive definition that might or might not include intercourse and might feel like what you actually want to do?)
• How to have supportive lovers while you are dating and looking for “the one”
• Menopause and why you might want to keep your sexuality alive during your 40s (based on Carolyn’s experience)

Listen to the podcast here!

The True Cost of Grabbing a Woman’s Pussy, and Why Pussy Will Grab Back

pussy grabs back November 8

pussy grabs back November 8

The psyches of all women are affected now. One of my friends posted on Facebook, “All women I talk to right now are so filled with fear and anger right now that someone who hates women this much and denies their consent could be president.” Another female friend wrote me, “I feel like Trump has climbed into my bedroom and I am thoroughly disturbed.” I have been on edge, more anxious that he could win, more worried about what I wear when I go out in the street, angry that a man who boasts about sexually assaulting a woman is at the top of the Republican ticket. I sent out a version of this editorial to a couple of newspapers and one op-ed editor wrote me back, “Interesting piece but this story has dominated the public conversation since Friday and now readers are starting to move on. I can’t use the piece.” The news cycle may move on, but we have not.

Trump brushes off his 2005 comments about grabbing a woman’s genitals without her consent by saying they are a distraction from important issues facing the country. It is not just a “distraction” when a woman (or man) experiences a sexual assault. A sexual assault has lifelong psychological and health consequences, not just a person’s ability to enjoy sex but also her mental and physical health on every level. Sexual violation certainly has not been “just a distraction” in my life. My experience was childhood sexual abuse, and it’s made it difficult to be in a healthy relationship and may have contributed to my autoimmune disease. Not a distraction. Not really.

How did we even get to the point where a man who boasts about sexual assault, and then says this is “locker-room talk,” is the Republican candidate for president? I wrote a calm clinical essay prosecuting Trump for consistent disrespect of women but when I showed it to a friend she said, “Where’s the emotion?” I wanted to stay factual because I was afraid of being called an “angry woman.”

There’s a lot to be angry about but I suppressed my anger for many years. I stayed silent about the abuse that happened to me as a child, never telling anyone until I was 18. No one told me to stay silent, but I grew up feeling it was my job to protect everyone else from the truth. Everyone else’s feelings mattered more than mine, and it was better to leave the room rather than stay in the same room with the abuser. The cost of sexual violation accrues in the silence and the shame that goes along with that silence.

I’m unwilling to be silent anymore. Trump is an abuser and he’s abusing (and gaslighting) the whole country. It’s obvious this is not normal locker-room banter. Most men don’t gleefully brag about sexually assaulting women. His pattern of extreme disrespect toward women is well established. Just last week he was up in the middle of the night tweeting about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, calling her “disgusting,” and a “con,” and claiming she appeared in a sex tape with no evidence. He has been accused of rape three times (Jane Doe in California alleges he raped her when she was 13) and he’s said if his daughter Ivanka were sexually harassed it would be up to her to find a new situation. He also said on The View, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” (To which, the hosts laughed, “Oh, you’re known for saying outrageous things, who are you, Woody Allen?”) People making jokes about these comments is exactly how we got to this point.

Too many people don’t realize there are lifelong psychological and health costs for survivors of sexual assault. I’ve been researching the links between sexual abuse and emotional and physical health because I’m writing a memoir where an incident of sexual abuse is part of my story. Men and women who experience sexual violation often face years of feeling damaged, alone, and unlovable. Abuse and rape lead to clinical depression at rates 11 times the general population. Survivors struggle to enjoy sex, feeling like they are objects, and to form trusting bonds in intimacy. There’s a growing body of evidence that rape and sexual abuse negatively impact physical health too. Recovery from sexual assault and abuse is possible and it takes effort, courage, money, and often years.

Canadian writer Kelly Oxford shared five of her sexual assault experiences and asked other women to tweet theirs. She told the UK Guardian, for 14 hours, she was getting 50 stories a minute. Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network estimates that 1 in every 6 American women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. I’d hazard those numbers are low because many people never tell a soul. As I’ve told people in my network about my writing project, 60% of the people I tell eventually confide a sexual violation happened to them too in childhood. They don’t always say immediately. That’s how deep the shame and silence goes.

Donald Trump will continue to say outrageous things for the next month, but let’s not forget: he was 59 when he boasted that he could he could grab women by the pussy whenever he wanted because he is a star. What I’ve realized from my own healing from sexual abuse is that anger has its place. Let’s not be afraid to be angry. Anger is a chance to draw a boundary, to say no more, to say back off. So it is with all my righteous anger that I say it’s inconceivable that we have even gotten to this point where this man is up on the national stage in the debates. A vote for Trump tells other people this behavior is OK. Republicans, you need to take responsibility for nominating this man. He needs to be off the Republican ticket. Now.

The Power of the Quirkyalone Vote this Election

The election is now just five weeks away. It’s impossible to avoid the news about the candidates (whose names in this sentence, anyway, shall go unmentioned), but in the end, we are not just voting for individuals, we are actually voting for our future. And more than that, this election is a chance for us to recognize our own power.

What kind of world do we want to live in? Do we continue to promote policies that reflect a vision of the world that used to exist, or do we start to create a world that reflects who we are, a country were now unmarried women are actually in the majority? The question is, do we wake up as a group and start to exert our influence on public policy (which then affects our possibilities–can you take time off from work to care for your sick single aunt, can you get birth control paid by your health insurance)?

Rebecca Traister, author of All The Single Ladies, wrote an important essay in New York magazine on the rise of the single American woman voter as the most potent voting bloc in the country, back when Hillary and Bernie were still slugging it out in the primary. Now, we have the opportunity to make Rebecca right but only if we actually vote. 

So, if you haven’t registered, now is the time.

Here is a list of the voter registration deadlines, state-by-state. We are approaching the 30-day deadline for many states, so the time is now to hop on it if registering to vote has been lagging on your to-do list.

From the New York magazine piece. . . 

“. . .how much of an impact single women will have on this election and on public policy in the years to come depends, in large part, on whether they begin to recognize their growing political power. Part of this is simply a matter of getting out the vote. According to Page Gardner, in 2016, “for the first time in history, a majority of women voters are projected to be unmarried,” but going into the previous presidential-election season, nearly 40 percent of them had not registered to vote. . . 

The independent woman, both high earning and low earning, looks into her future and sees decades, or even a lifetime, lived outside marriage, in which she will be responsible for both earning wages and doing her own domestic labor.

This is the new social compact that she requires: stronger equal-pay protections that guarantee women’s labor will not be discounted because of leftover assumptions that they are likely to be supported by husbands; a higher federally mandated minimum wage, which would help to alleviate the burdens of poverty on America’s hardest and least-well-remunerated workers; a national health-care system that covers reproductive intervention, so that those who want to terminate pregnancies or have babies on their own or wait until they are older to do so are able to avail themselves of the best medical technologies; more affordable housing for single people, perhaps subsidized and with attendant tax breaks for single dwellers who choose to live in smaller, environmentally friendly spaces; criminal-justice reforms that address and correct the injustices of our contemporary carceral state; government-subsidized day-care programs; federally mandated paid family leave for both women and men who have new children or who need to take time off to care for ailing family members; universal paid-sick-day compensation, regardless of gender, circumstance, or profession; increases rather than continual decreases in welfare benefits; reduced college costs and quality early-education programs. Come to think of it, these policies would benefit lots of people who are not single women as well.

None of this is easy, or likely to happen quickly, especially not with a Republican-led Congress. But it is the beginning of a new kind of relationship between American women and their government. Single women are taking up space in a world that was not designed for them. They make up a new republic, a new category of citizen. If the country is to flourish, we must make room for free women, and let go of the economic and social systems built around the presumption that no woman really counts unless she is married.”

So let’s do this. Here’s that list of voter registration deadlines by state, with links to information to help you register to vote in time.

Behind the Postcards on the Tangasm, Coaching, and Why I’ve Chosen South America over Silicon Valley for Now

BTP-insta-sasha

Chris Tyre over at the lovely blog Nomad + Camera interviewed me about why and how I chose to leave Silicon Valley tech stress for a more artistic life in South America. And how I got here. Plus you can read up on the tangasm. Why wouldn’t you want to read about that? Here’s the lovely Nomad + Camera interview that’s published today!

Chris Tyre interviews digital nomad types all over the world about how they have created new lives for themselves. The interviews are well worth reading.

Read the full interview here and read the other inspiring digital nomad stories too.

Why #imwithher

#imwithher.

I resisted that slogan at first, because I thought, isn’t she with us?

But at the deepest levels of my bones, after watching the amazingly inspirational DNC last night, I’m feeling #imwither.

Many of you might not be. Some of you don’t live in the U.S. Some of you still want Bernie. Some of you might be voting for Trump or Gary Johnson. Or not vote at all.

But I want to lay out for you the import of electing Hillary from a #quirkyalone perspective. And why I hope you will vote in this important election in November. And even get involved in local, one-on-one campaigning. That’s how campaigns are still one. One-on-one talking to get out the vote.

Quirkyalone is inherently a feminist philosophy that presupposes that women are full human beings who don’t need a man to complete us or to live a full life, even if we do want to be in close or committed relationships with men for some or all of our lives. Quirkyalone as a mass phenomenon is only possible historically since women en masse have gotten access to education and the opportunity to have economic equality.

The truth is it’s still often hard for a single woman or mother to make it on her own, or for a woman emerging from divorce to make it, in a world where women are still paid less than men (let’s change that) but we have vastly more freedom than we did before because we don’t need to be married just to survive.

Where does Hillary’s campaign for president fall in this narrative of the arc toward full choice in relationship and full female participation in life? It can’t be overstated the importance of seeing a woman take the reins as a leader in the U.S. There is nothing more delicious than this Quartz headline: “Hillary Clinton’s husband wore a fetching pantsuit to honor her nomination for president.” Last week we saw a trophy wife speak for her two-decades-older husband (sorry, but that’s absolutely what I see in Trump and Melania, with their 24-year age difference), this week we see a former president celebrating his woman’s career and looking pretty sharp to boot. We see dozens of others saluting her on the stage, saying there’s no one who has more experience or is better prepared for the presidency. Sorry Bill. Even you.

When Hillary was 15, she wanted to be an astronaut and she was told no on account of her gender. It cannot be overstated the subtle profound value of us finally seeing a woman in the driver’s seat of our country. Many other countries have or have had female presidents (Germany, Chile, Iceland, Brazil, Argentina). The US has been a powerful force for women’s equality but we also have vast amounts of sexism left in our country. The sexism gets exposed all the time with Hillary showing us how people react to a female candidacy (there are even plenty of “liberal” people calling her a “dog” and other dehumanizing terms on social media). Some of the media heralding the historic nomination of a woman president didn’t even feature a photo of Hillary, they featured Bill. That’s how uncomfortable people still are with a woman being in power.

Hillary’s presidency is a powerful show that women are equal. I don’t think we will even fully feel that until well after she is elected. How profound and sweet that is to really say and believe in a world that sort of believes it but indicates otherwise all the time.

#imwithher. Hope you’ll join us.

xo
Sasha

PS #strongertogether.

PPS #nohateonthispage.

PPPS My younger brother Dan Cagen wrote this on Facebook today, and I thought it was spot-on, so I will add this here:

“Obama ended his speech with a ‘Yes, We Can,’ his slogan from 2008. It was a message of hope and change and that better days are ahead of us if we all work together towards our goals. I’ve been deeply troubled over the last week since watching Trump’s RNC speech—part of me wishes I hadn’t subjected myself to that—and the vision of America he sees. Trump sees an America where you will be killed and your murderer will be a non-white person. It’s hard for me to reconcile that so many people in this country are supporting someone who feels that way. Hearing Obama bring back ‘Yes, We Can,’ and seeing the response in Philadelphia, was a reminder that there are still plenty who have hope and want a better future.”

The challenges of being a quirkyalone woman looking for quirkytogether

Here is a brave, wonderful essay that just appeared in the Washington Post Solo-ish column about the challenges of being quirkyalone . . . looking for quirkytogether. 

Melissa Banigan writes about the challenges of being an independent woman looking for a relationship with a man who welcomes this independence and would also state his own needs so they can craft quirkytogether together. Love seeing this dialogue in the press as it’s so often happening in our modern hearts.

“Again, I got accused of being scared of commitment despite having been very committed to trying to make things work. We both put a lot of time and energy into our relationship. The problem was that he had a more traditional idea of how to be in a partnership, while I’m an independent quirkyalone.

Interestingly enough, 85 percent of people who come out of failed marriages cite “lack of commitment” as the reason for their divorce. Perhaps those who’ve been through a divorce could take a lesson or two from quirkyalones and learn how to better balance the independent self with the togetherness of being in a couple. In my view, real commitment is about stating and respecting each other’s needs.

Next time I get into a relationship, I’ll need a partner who embraces my strength. “Some men might feel threatened by quirkyalone women because they are not as interested in orienting their lives entirely around a man,” Cagen says, “and other men are turned on by it because they want to be with a strong woman who brings her full self to the relationship.”

While I haven’t yet found “The One,” at least I’m not trapped with Mr. Wrong. I’d prefer to meet another independent soul, so that we can explore what it means to be quirkytogether.”

Click HERE to read Melissa’s full (great) essay “I’m not afraid of commitment–I just love my independence.”

If this resonates, I want you to know this is one of the things I focus on with one-on-one coaching clients. I love working with my women clients–and a few cool men–to create your vision of what you really want, dismantle limiting beliefs and build skills for speaking your truth and negotiation so you can create the intimacy and closeness you want while also honoring needs for independence and autonomy. This is the quirkyalone/quirkytogether path and it is possible. I just got an amazing email from a former client who just married a man two years after we completed our work together, and they are maintaining their own homes. Anything is possible. 

If that resonates with you be in touch to learn more and to talk.

Is there only one happy ending for women characters in TV shows, movies and books?

Is there only one happy ending for women characters? Lady Mary shakes things up in season 6 of Downton

Is there only one happy ending for women characters? Lady Mary shakes things up in season 6 of Downton

Ali sent me a text, “You should watch this week’s Downton Abbey. Mary Crawley has a big quirkyalone speech where she says she’d rather be alone than with a man she doesn’t love.”

I texted back, “OK, will do,” put down the phone and put Downton Abbey on the to-watch list for the night. Ali and I have been friends almost twenty years, we are both spotters of quirkyalone utterances in pop culture for fifteen years now. We look for moments when characters say being alone is preferable to settling, especially when they come from women. Those female articulations are more revolutionary in a world that defines women’s value in terms of their relationships.

Indeed the scene was awesome. Mary not only declared her preference for being alone over a loveless marriage, but also fended off a blackmailer who wanted to humiliate her for spending a week with a man (out-of-wedlock tryst! Scandal!). So not only did she declare her independence as a human being (she doesn’t need to be with a man to exist) but she stands up to slut-shaming.

The last season takes place in 1925, a decade when women were discovering new social liberties in the flapper era–where “calling” shifted into “dating” and sexual exploration became more commonplace. According to historian Michael Lerner, a decade after women finally won the right to vote, “women had the right to enjoy themselves socially as much as men did, whether through drinking, sex, or indulging in the pleasures of urban nightlife.”

The next question for me and Ali was, would Downton’s creators let Mary end up alone?

After Ali and I talked on the phone. Ali said, “They’re giving her all these boring men love interests this season. They’re not very inspiring. I hope they give her someone good before the series ends.”

I said, “I like the way they are playing it, that they have two single women sisters now Mary and Edith. That’s life too. Sometimes that is the way it goes.” I don’t mean either that Mary would always be single. But that there could be other valid endings.

I’ve been having conversations like these for quite a while now. Sex in the City was about to conclude a decade ago around the same time as my book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics came out. Because they saw me as a real-life icon for the single girl, reporters often asked me for opinions about how ultimate single-women-in-the-city series (until then) should conclude. Would Carrie end up with Big? Carried ended up with Big.

When you look at other blockbuster memoirs-turned-to-movies such as Wild and Eat Pray Love, you realize they both begin with women who have husbands and end with women who have husbands. Is a woman finding a man a requirement for the ending of a big blockbuster book, movie or TV show? Do we need to be calmed by the formula of the fairy-tale storybook ending we’ve been sold since birth that a woman’s happiness begins when she finds her prince?

Even an edgy book like Gone Girl that is very critical of fake couplehood ends with the couple back together again. (In some ways Gone Girl is a sly argument that we get what we deserve.) HBO serial Girls which should herald a new era of higher standards (one might think) brings Hannah together over and over again with pretty lame boyfriend Adam.

Are are there a variety of happy endings for women characters? This question about women’s happy endings is something I have thought a lot about as I write the first and now second draft of my memoir Wet. How should I end my book, I ask myself often. For example, my memoir might end with me alone, but that doesn’t mean I will be alone forever.

My intuition tells me that in 2016 we are reading for new endings. It’s a thought experiment to imagine the multiple happy endings for a woman: she finally falls in love with herself; she finds her home, the right community of friends, her true calling, or the meaning of life; she heals from childhood abuse, or she learns how to have sex and not feel guilty about it afterwards.

Would we give these endings a chance, or do we really believe there is only one truly satisfying conclusion?

Let’s see what happens with Mary Crawley.

+++

Join us to be Quirkyalone Together Feb. 14 in Oakland!

Join us to be Quirkyalone Together Feb. 14 in Oakland!

In other news, I am super excited to announce this upoming workshop: Quirkyalone Live: Quirkyalone Together on February 14 (International Quirkyalone Day).

Through this intimate afternoon workshop, we are going to come together and I am going to teach you the key skills I have learned in years of writing and coaching other quirkyalones that you can use to live a happy, satisfying life where your heart is also open to being quirkytogether. To live as a happy quirkyalone takes specific mindset shifts, practices and behaviors. It takes self-compassion and a community of support.

For some it can be a lifelong journey to get to this point of embracing life single or in a relationship—through this workshop, we will help you get there sooner. Spaces are limited. The super early bird deadline for the best price is January 21. Sign up today!

A sociology student’s definition of “quirkytogether”

Last week I got this email from a reader and I wanted to share it with you. . .

Hello Sasha,

I doubt you’ll remember me, but I had e-mailed you a couple of years ago in response to a question you’d posed on Facebook, and I’d also mentioned to you that I’m a sociology professor at Wingate University in North Carolina, and that I assign your book Quirkyalone in my Deviant Behavior class, as one example of how to be a non-conformist in society.

I was grading exams tonight which included an essay question about the concept of being Quirkytogether from the book, and one of the students put it as well as I think I’ve ever heard it described, and I felt I ought to share this with you. She wrote:

“Quirkytogether: two whole people that don’t need each other but want to be together.”

Thanks to Aaron for passing this along. And yes I remembered you!

I often coach and write about this topic of two independent people coming together to create a relationship based on their own values, desires, and rules. (And I dedicate a chapter to “quirkytogether” in Quirkyalone.)

What do you think of the definition? What does “quirkytogether” mean to you? How does this student’s definition resonate for you? Please feel free to share in the comments, and who knows, it may become part of a list to be shared in a future Quirkytogether book!