Sex and the Single Woman
24 Writers Update Helen Gurley Brown’s Cult Classic for a New Era
edited by Eliza M. Smith and Haley Swanson
A feminist anthology inspired by legendary Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl, featuring twenty-four new essays on the triumphs and heartbreaks of modern singlehood from acclaimed and bestselling authors, including Kristen Arnett, Morgan Parker, Evette Dionne, and Melissa Febos.
Sixty years ago, Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl sent shockwaves through the United States, selling more than two million copies in three weeks. Helen’s message was radical for its time: marriage wasn’t essential for women to lead rich, fulfilling lives.
Now, in these critical, wry, and expansive essays, twenty-four writers reconsider Helen’s advice and how it applies to their own paths, fielding topics that she couldn’t—or wouldn’t—conceive of in 1962: contraception and abortion (an omission demanded by her publisher), queer and trans womanhood, polyamory, celibacy, interracial dating, bodies of all kinds, consent, sex work, IVF, and the pop culture that both saves and fails us.
Eliza Smith and Haley Swanson’s revisionist anthology honors Brown’s irreverent spirit while also validating our modern experiences of singlehood, encouraging us all to reclaim joy where it’s so often been denied.
Paperback | 272 pages | Harper Perennial | 2022