It can be hard out there for a single person. Everywhere you look, it seems the world is designed for people who’ve paired up. Restaurants are set up for parties of two, minimum, everyone looks at you sideways if you go to the movies alone (it is one of life’s greatest pleasures and I will not be convinced otherwise), and that’s not event taking into account the constant low-level pressure to partner up, get hitched, and pop out some sprogs.
Welp, at least one high-profile person is calling absolute bullshit on the whole idea that you’ve gotta be coupled up in order to be happy: artist and activist Florence Given, whose fun, feminine work heavily features DUMP HIM themes and who took the whole concept of compulsory pairing to task on the BBC.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the 20-year-old artist summed up the scam we’re sold about needing a partner to complete us in response to a host suggesting that society views singledom as something temporary and undesirable:
There’s definitely a narrative especially for women in particular that we are left as the “last ones on the shelf”. People definitely view being single as this temporary state where you are “in waiting”.
It’s all about perspective, being single. I think if you realise that you are single by choice, because maybe you’ve turned some people down, it can be more empowering. You’re single because you’re choosing to be single. You’re choosing not to settle for less than you deserve. I think it’s so powerful when you look at it in that way.
As the other host puts it, three years of avoiding bad relationships is certainly preferable to being in those relationships – something Given understands intimately, having kickstarted her career after dumping the “man-child” she’d been dating for way too long.
The idea of being half of someone … is woven into our society, we see it in Disney Princess movies – all I knew growing up was that one day I would get married and have kids. And that is amazing if that’s what you want to do, genuinely, but I thin it’s about stripping back whether that’s what you want, or whether that’s what you’ve been told to want. And it takes a while to get there.
There needs to be an alternative narrative which shows women that there are many ways you can live your life, and many way you can thrive outside of these two emblems of success, marriage and kids.
View this post on Instagram
Almost certain that I am innately feminine, and privileged in identifying with the binary as a young cis woman, I cant help but wonder how much of it has to do with conditioning…How are you ever supposed to know who you really are, if your entire existence has already been decided for you the moment you were assigned male or female at birth? If you have been brainwashed to identify with the binary that is male or female? “Blue or Pink”? How are you supposed to know how much of your identity is who you truly are, and how much of it is a product of the patriarchal society you were brought up in? Force fed heteronormative narratives, and taught to present yourself in a way that is desirable for men? Gender roles kill. Literally. The average life expectancy for a trans woman of colour is 35, and 80 for a cis woman. Suicide is also the biggest killer for men in the UK, and you BET It’s linked to the fact that men are pressured to be strong, resilient, self-sustaining power houses who refuse to seek help. Men, let women and femmes take some of that pressure on for you. Employ us, pay us, elect us, respect us. Feminism benefits everyone, because everyone suffers under the white supremacist patriarchy.
This is fairly big stuff Given is tackling – the whole idea of being unable to extricate what your actual desires are and what you’ve simply accepted that you ought to desire is woven through modern feminist theory and forms a big part of the debate on how to tackle being an independent entity in a patriarchal capitalist society. But she does it pretty well in a 3-minute soundbyte, and if it gives a bunch of people the confidence to own their singleness with intention and assuredness, then hell yeah to that.