Society and the Single Girl
by Esther Emery
Since I’m thinking about families again today, I’m moving up this comment by Jo Anne from a post about love. This is MOXIE Theatre’s Managing Director:
I have been experiencing the “do you have a boyfriend?” question when I go home to Texas since I was 19. Now it’s morphed into “are you married?” or “do you have a family?”
To which I used to give a meek, head down, “no, not right now,” which then became a defiant, confident “Nope” – loaded with all of the “and I’m perfectly happy that way, thank you very much, so please get off my back” that I could fit into that little word.
But, the best part was always the look of thinly veiled suspicion and pity that followed. Always leaving with that “wow, I’m a freak” feeling.
And, I think your point about that push/pull that happens between trying to assure ourselves that we are ok, and reconciling that with the fact that we really would LIKE to have a partner, is such a valid one.
I’ve often wondered what the solution is to feeling not quite right about being single. How do we let it be TRULY ok to be single – giving AS MUCH value to that life experience – as we do to families? Even in MOXIE – our emphasis is on supporting families – with very little outright validation to the single person. Not that I would necessariy change that – I think this is part of our purpose on this earth. I just have often wondered how, as a society, we could make change that gives value to the individual, even unpartnered. I’m not sure what that is, but I just wonder if we’d feel more comfortable and easy in our search for a partner, if we didn’t feel like there really would be something WRONG with going through life single.
At yesterday’s design meeting for The Butcher of Baraboo, we discussed the violence that can be done to an individual by a group. A community (which is, of course, made up of individuals, and that’s where the theatre comes in) sometimes invalidates characteristics of an individual that threaten the values of the group. This happens in conservative communities. And it happens in liberal ones. See Noelle’s comment on the “normal” post for a personal example of liberal outsider-shaming.
Is offering “support” to our singles another way to shame people into conforming, potentially at their expense? And if so, how do we let it be “TRULY okay to be single?”