5 Assumptions About Being Single

[Ed. Note: This is a guest post from Carli Darlene Trujillo. Carli is a student at Westminster College studying communication and sociology. She is a proud member of the Westminster College Feminist Club and loves alternative music, veganism studies, and most things old-fashioned.]

Photo Courtesy of Cassady Zane Photography

Photo Courtesy of Cassady Zane Photography

“You’re single?” she asked.

“Yeah, and happy to be!” I replied.

“Aw, that’s too bad. I thought you were dating that one guy, not anymore?

Why are you single? You’re so pretty!” she demanded.

Sometimes, sexism and homophobia can be subtle, and sometimes they can come out in the most unexpected of situations. In case it isn’t obvious, I will list just a few of the factors in this exchange that immediately struck me as wrong.

  1. The fact that I felt as though I had to mention that I am happy along with being single, mainly in response to the follow-up assumption that because I am single, I am unhappy.
  2. The response of pity on me that I am a single woman, as if my relationship status is a direct causation for my happiness.
  3. The assumption that I am a straight woman, and that because I have dated men in the past, that my sexuality can’t be fluid.
  4. The reduction of my entire being to my appearance and citing that as the reason why she was surprised that I am single.
  5. Finally, the assumption that my future romantic interests, which she restricted to men, are only interested in my appearance and are incapable of appreciating my entire being.

I wish I could say that I am surprised by this exchange, but unfortunately, this type of conversation has become commonplace in my young adult life. I have pondered the reasons and motives behind this woman asking me these questions, and I immediately think of the phenomenon that is well-known within the feminist community that states that women are expected to aspire to marriage. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a prominent author, eloquently states:

“Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important.”

Although I am unsure that the woman I was talking to was at all aware of her comments, or that she holds the attitude that I should generally aspire to marriage, I do think her comments are worth noting because of the societal implications behind them.

Keeping this in mind, I would like to pose a couple of questions to my fellow feminists:

How do we change society’s language and attitude around being single, no matter your sex or gender?

How can we reclaim what it means to be single and work to eliminate the negative associations and assumptions regarding relationship statuses?

Personally, I don’t have the answers to these somewhat overwhelming questions of social justice. I do, however, have a good idea of where to start. I believe that awareness is the first step. You can increase your awareness by paying attention and unmasking the conversations you have, as well as the ones you overhear, to unveil the motives, assumptions, and stereotypes behind our language.

The second step would be to focus on your own words and actions. As Ghandi  simply puts it:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

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