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Census: It’s a man’s world — or maybe a woman’s
Communities often lopsided
As a result of the imbalance in the numbers of eligible men to women, “they double up,” Mr. Brown says, referring to area men who have more than one girlfriend at a time. “It’s acceptable, but you can’t be doing them wrong.”
The women’s desire to have a man around — even if he can’t be secured exclusively — is compounded by the frequency of single motherhood and an awareness of the importance of male role models.
“You have to let them talk to your children, because otherwise at 14 they’ll be walking up and down the street,” Mr. Brown says of the mothers’ willingness to expose their children to boyfriends. The boyfriends, too, have become more comfortable with the arrangement.
“Twenty years ago, they’d say you’ve got children, they’re stepping off. Now, it’s the norm. You got to take the package. … Just hope she don’t have three packages,” he says with a laugh.
‘The men die young’
In Maryland and Virginia, most areas lean just slightly female, but the dating-age population leans more male, and areas that are most skewed are usually male-dominated, including those with a military presence and Southwest Virginia towns whose economies depend on coal miners and other rough-and-tumble laborers.
In the urban core, Arlington leans female among those of dating age, which young women who live there say is because they are attracted to the urban feel yet have a greater sense of safety than in the District.
The whole city of Baltimore leans female for many of the same reasons as the small towns around Seat Pleasant.
But vast swaths of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Southern Virginia are particularly female-heavy, and a closer look at the aging populations of those old-fashioned places shows a disparity that holds true wherever one goes: By the time residents reach age 85 and older, fewer than 32 percent are men.
Back at the Stein Room in Leisure World, you don’t have to tell that to Bettie Gamble. “I have had three wonderful marriages. The first had cancer, the second had heart problems, and the last had emphysema,” says Mrs. Gamble, 85.
And so many of the women who arrive at Leisure World, far from looking for a quiet place to live out the last few years of life, are starting over.
“A lot of people meet here and get married. A lot meet and don’t get married.”
The unexpectedly lively social scene is the reason many move to this retirement community, one of the largest in the area. “I have friends who say, ‘I don’t want to leave my home.’ But what do you do there? Here, you can meet people,” says Suzzette Katsouros, 83.
The way the gender disparity and the circumstances of aging have shaped attitudes toward sex are oft-repeated.
“Older people used to look down on younger people for shacking up, but now a lot of them are doing it. They have wills and kids, and it gets all tangled up if you get remarried,” Mrs. Katsourous says.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at email@example.com.
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