Helen Gurley Brown turned 90 this past February 18. I discovered her when I was a teenager and became an instant fan. She was a woman ahead of her time; I hadn't heard another woman with her message. I was certainly familiar with (and appreciative of) feminists who were trying to empower us, but Helen was coming at it from a whole 'nother angle: it's okay for a woman to be single, and really ok for her to have and enjoy sex, to have fun, to have a full life. I didn't know anybody else who was saying this quite that way.
I bought her book, Sex and the Single Girl, and read it at night after I went to bed so my mother wouldn't catch me with it. Helen was 40 when she wrote the book so she wasn't some young, flighty girl being wistfully naive. This woman had lived. She went on to showcase her perspective as editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years.
Katie Roiphe wrote an article in Slate magazine acknowledging HGB's birthday and celebrating her accomplishments.
From the article: "It has now been 50 long and eventful years since the publication of Helen Gurley Brown's feminist classic, Sex and the Single Girl, in which she made the groundbreaking observation: "I think a single woman's biggest problem is coping with the people who are trying to marry her off."
True then, still true. But I'm trying to do my part to help chip away at this notion that a woman must be married to have real worth. Read more…