Helen Gurley Brown And The Single Girl: A Modern Love Manual

By | April 9, 2019

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Author Helen Gurley Brown relaxing and working in her Park Avenue Apartment in 1965; an edition of her landmark book featuring Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis on the cover. Sources: (Bettmann/Getty; Amazon.com)

Before Helen Gurley Brown, sexuality and single girls were not discussed in the same sentence, much less an entire book. But the future Cosmopolitan editor dropped a bomb in 1962 with a manual for modern, single women, and in so doing played a key part in the changing gender norms.

Shocking and scandalous when it was first published, Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl, was a provocative book that raised eyebrows and scowls -- yet sold more than two million copies in the first three weeks. Never before had a book so openly talked about the trials and tribulations of the single, adult, working women of the 1960s. Let’s look at the groundbreaking book, Sex and the Single Girl. 

The Time Was Ripe For A How-To Book For Single Women

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Helen Gurlely Brown. Source: (cnn.com)

The 1960s was a time of remarkable social changes in the United States. The role of women was fast evolving from a life of domesticity to one that offered more freedoms and opportunities. In the decades prior to the 1960s, women were expected to marry young, have children, and be homemakers. But the '60s saw more and more women bucking these traditions. They were earning degrees, holding jobs, building careers, living alone, and postponing marriage and children. That didn’t mean, however, that they were postponing their love lives.