A young mom proudly stated that she was single. She was a mother to a four year old girl child and was an entrepreneur herself. She was self employed at the moment but had big dreams of owing a chain of stores across the city where she lived and across other cities! She said it was important to ‘own your status’. That was a statement full of punch. Wham! Own your status, say it with pride. ‘I am single’ and that is the truth. This is not to make a value out of the status of being single but to give it a sense of dignity and a sense of pride. It rings of confidence and fearlessness to face the world. Unlike earlier times, it is not like a ‘whine’ from a single woman to beg for sympathy from others and nor is there a sense of shame of being single. It does not seek approval from others and nor does it ask for kindness and concessions. It is a bold assertion of yourself and a bolder assertion of your right to live life with respect on your own terms. It commands a space of its own and claims it with a sense of pride. Own your single status!
Some years ago my piece on ‘being single’ evoked mixed reactions. It remained in my mind as I write on it again. There are many aspects to the phenomena of being single and being a single ‘female’. Society and especially males look at you with terribly mixed emotions, sometimes with envy, suspicion, hatred, pity, ridicule or then awe and admiration if you have gone places, but never as a normal, equal, human being. It has to be tinged with some extreme emotion, in black or white tones.
My conviction is that ‘nobody is single by choice’. Circumstances lead you into such a position. Of course some of the women I spoke to did not agree with me as they felt it was the best choice they made under the circumstances. That was a different story I agreed- that making the choice of being single could be the best option under unfavourable circumstances but yet the philosophical position remains that ‘nobody is single by choice’. We are social and gregarious human beings and love the comfort of others humans. No one likes to live alone. Sharing your life with another is the most normal need and desire. We need a witness to our lives and nothing better than an intimate one. For that is where we reveal our true selves. Socially we generally put our best foot forward and at most times we put on a social mask for social interaction. It is in personal life in intimacy that the true nature reveals itself.
But if one is thrown into an unnatural situation or if one makes a conscious choice of being single due to the unfavourable circumstances then what mattered most was your attitude- your attitude towards yourself and your attitude towards life. That is the only way to live -with your head on your shoulders and held high.
On a different note let’s see some reactions to a somewhat peculiar question- ‘What is the relevance of a male in your life’ was a query shot by one anonymous in a group of women. One promptly said ‘nothing’ very bluntly- a male has no relevance in my life. ‘I am intelligent, independent, economically self sufficient, physically fit, can do everything that a male can do. I can also produce my baby’. Great! Here was the true radical feminist I thought. ‘I opted for singlehood as no man fitted the bill. I was looking for someone equal to me and that seemed to be a tall order as some were obviously dominating and some seriously fell short of my expectations’ she added. She then just focused on her career and lived that way. That could be the story of many who aspire for equality and freedom. Men cannot take that ‘business of equality’ seriously – it is too much really!! How can a woman dare to defy the male supremacy! But married women, who were part of the group and the discussion, had an opinion too. One said ‘if you continue to be lonely and neglected in a marriage I might think that singlehood is a better option’. In other words, if a particular marriage was a suffering rather than happiness then being single was better than being double. So we had different opinions coming up which was interesting.
In modern times the phenomena of being a single will grow as more women desire equality and respect and assert their independence which men don’t tolerate. With education and a democratic society like India women have the opportunities to choose a good life for them-selves according to their values. They can balance their desires, sublimate their energies and immerse themselves in creative work and exalt their selves. Ultimately society and the male folks will be forced to reckon with this phenomenon if they do not change their traditional mindsets and their perspective. That will be their tragedy.