Celibacy In The City

It was about a year ago that I realized it was time to just make a commitment.

If I had a checklist for where I was in my life, it would have looked pretty good: late 30s, living in Manhattan, freelance writer, founder of an improv school, volunteering for an organization dedicated to creating a better future, plenty of good friends – all dimensions accounted for.

Well almost. It was everything but “a man.”

I was one of those “date a few times and then be inseparable for two years” people. When I moved to NYC in 2001, “Sex and the City” was at its peak. That show and its promise of the perfect city life for a young single woman was a factor in me moving from LA. I know, it’s sad. But it just shows how deep and powerful the desire to find — and how much fun it is to look for — that one guy really is.And within a short amount of time, I had created a version of that life for myself … a group of girlfriends, summer nights going to the trendiest bars, wearing the trendiest couture our budgets (and credit limits) would allow … all in the name of being happy at being single, knowing we’d be happier when we found our Mr. Right, or Mr. Big, whomever showed up first. And like most of us (we know who we are), we had a lot less action with guys than our role models on the show did. Our show could have been called “Drinks in the City” or “High Heels in the City”– frankly that was more accurate. But that was fine. Because there was almost an unspoken confidence that HE was out there. Somewhere. Maybe it wouldn’t be today, it might be next week. But that was OK because he WAS out there and I WOULD meet him.

So here I am. Seven years later and on the verge of taking the plunge. I will make a sacred vow. Lay my stake in the ground and declare to the world, “Yes! I am Celibate!”

(insert record scratch)

Yes, celibate. It’s a noun as well as an adjective. And is defined in a variety of ways, from “abstaining from sex” to “unmarried”. Our friends at Wikipedia tell us a vow of celibacy “is a promise not to enter into marriage or engage in sexual intercourse.”

And while that is all true, I have become celibate for a very specific reason. And that’s why I’ve decided to write about my experiences as a celibate woman living, not in a nunnery or a cave or an ashram in India, but in Manhattan – city of infinite temptation, from material needs to models walking on the streets next to you to nearly pornographic billboards the size of Rhode Island at every turn.

The reason I’m attracted to being a Celibate is that it’s a conscious choice to create something NEW.

I am always amazed when I think that I am one of the first women in the HISTORY OF WOMEN … thousands of years, billions of women … to even have the option to not get married and bear children. Up until very recently, if I had wanted to follow this path, my only choice would have been to basically withdraw from the world. If I wasn’t going to become a wife and mother, my only other option would be to take myself out of the game and live an asexual life, basically denying my gender. And there are still many, many places in the world right now where this is still the case.

So any of us who CHOOSE to not get married, not have children, are really bucking up against a centuries-old structure. I feel it in myself. When I think what my life will be like if I go all the way with this and not ever get married, not ever have a sexual relationship with another man, not ever have children … I am aware I’m entering into uncharted territory.

But to say, “No, I want to help create a NEW OPTION for what it means to be a woman. An option that is not tied to our sexual role whatsoever — not a mother, not a wife, not a lover or mistress or asexual, uptight nun.” Well there aren’t a lot of role models out there. Not examples of strong, bright, successful, attractive, vibrant women who choose this over relationships and children. Usually when I see a woman who is manless and childless in her 50s, somewhere in me I feel bad for her and imagine she feels bad too. But what if that wasn’t the case? Imagine women who, because of our unprecedented freedoms, education, wealth, opportunity and social support, were able to forgo the path that all our foremothers and sisters took and create a NEW WOMAN. And she’d co-exist with both women and men in a brand new way, where sex and responding to all the sexual forces and motives in us wasn’t driving us, wasn’t the currency between us.

Right now, it only exists as a potential – one that I am so excited about helping explore and create. Celibacy: One small step for woman, one giant step for humankind. Preferably in a comfortable sling back wedge.

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