In this issue of In Plainspeak our contributors reflect on and reveal the myriad facets of being single – is it a choice? A condition? A state of being? Lonely? Joyful? Not one or the other, but a glorious mix?
Why is it always so hard to find a place for intimacy and why do we have to lie and cheat our way into getting it? Everything related to non-committal sex was always so taboo, shrouded in secrecy, and eliciting raised eyebrows, that it turned me off.
The only hitch was that neither the agents nor the landlords who lurked behind those rentable flats were particularly keen on leasing their precious properties to a – what! Divorcee??!! No, no, madam, but this flat is only for families.
Emma Watson spoke to British Vogue about the incredible amounts of stress and anxiety that follows, “…if you have not built a home, if you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby, and you are turning 30, and you’re not in some incredibly secure, stable place in your career, or you’re still figuring things out…”
By the end of the evening, the room was suffused with the celebration of singlehood, rather than any explanation or apology for it. It appeared that the solitary life was envied and extolled by those who have opted out of it as well as many who haven’t.
If you are true to yourself, and attuned to your emotions and needs, you’ll invariably find that even a core belief (such as: not believing in the institution of marriage) is complicated by what the lived experience of that means (not only discriminatory experiences, but also intimate ones).
What I am proposing here is to look at being in a relationship and being single together because what is important here is the idea of ‘be-ing’ as opposed to the stereotypes and perceptions attached to our relationship with ‘the One’ or to singlehood.
Growing up, for me, has been about accepting that the loneliness and sadness woven into the fabric of my being do not go away with entering conventional arrangements like monogamous relationships or marriage.
For a queer person, or for someone who remains single by choice, everyday existence requires strength and will. That is the embodiment of kun faya kun as a personal philosophy: to manifest the person you want to be through sheer will.
I believe that queer friendships and intimacies are sheer resistance, which not only swallow the despair and pain that might be perpetrated on gender-nonconforming people by their families, but also recognise all the lies about love that have been sold to us.
I am 27 now and marriage is the most brought-up topic of conversation by my parents and relatives. Now, choosing or wanting to stay single is inversely proportional to my reputation, respect, and worthiness.
Singleness represents eschewing all that patriarchy imposes on us in the name of emotional and financial protection. Women who decide not to marry defy age-old ‘wisdom’ mixed with terrible psychological and biologically-backed explanations.
Viewed from the ‘sexual-moral high ground’ of couples (especially married couples), long-term singlehood is generally labelled as a deficit, a lack,or an inability to be emotionally involved in a relationship rather than being seen as a lifestyle choice.
In this narrative, Sita finds solace in these women and understands a different perspective about beauty, self-worth, authority, self-reliance, and toward the end, finds liberation from society and marriage which were the root cause of her sorrow.
By and large, society expects a woman to marry. Often people in one’s circle judge a woman if she doesn’t marry, inquiring about what could be wrong but most never assuming that it could be out of choice