No, I’m not single-shaming this Valentine’s Day. On the other hand, this year I’m happy to see many campaigns on social media about self-love— how to celebrate Valentine’s Day by loving yourself more. Very interesting. I decided to write this post because I suddenly remembered an online conversation I had with a distant relative last month. Yes, about single-shaming. I think there’s nothing wrong with writing again about single-shaming on Valentine’s Day—while reminding that couples are not everyone’s lifestyle and choice.
Humans are created in pairs so all humans have to get married, right?
The random online chat started to get awkward when, as usual, small talk started to go stale. Not married yet? Then, if you have an invitation later, don’t forget to invite your aunt. My fad relapsed, so I just answered casually and frankly: so far, I don’t want to marry my aunt. As we can both guess, the clichéd answer appears again. Well, why is that? It’s not good for a woman to be alone. Humans are created in pairs. What? Wait.
I’m bothered by that cliche answer. My critical mind begins to analyze. I don’t really understand the context of other religions & beliefs, but at least in Christianity (the religion I follow, my aunt also adheres to), there are two important figures (Jesus Christ & Apostle Paul) who lead a celibate life (single), not in pairs and marriage —which should be a reference. Yes, although both are male and not female. Why does the reference keep referring only to Adam & Eve? In fact, if you want to be critical again, get out of the realm of religious interpretation which is not tired of telling people to have children &
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The socialized value of ‘humans were created in pairs so everyone must get married’ seems to be a religious justification for single-shaming. It seems that if there is only one woman who is not married, it is everyone’s business to advise and order her to get married (even matchmaking, to marry her). Without opening up space for critical reading, is it true that pairing is a better option for all women? In fact, many women are victims of violence in various forms in their own marriages. So, how about we close our eyes?
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Women can’t be alone.
We certainly must not forget: single shaming is more difficult for women than men. Patriarchy gives various reasons for women not to be alone . Women are considered to have a ‘biological age’ for their uterus, as if it could expire—so they must immediately pair up and get married (men do not have this kind of restriction). Not to mention the identity of women who have been constructed for centuries should not be far from the role of the domestic sphere, being a wife & being a mother.
Yes, for centuries, women’s identities have been linked to domestic matters: home, marriage, and family. When men’s aspirations are to work & have a career in the public sphere, women’s aspirations are ‘formed’ to become wives & mothers: until there is no room for other options. There is no room for single women. Single women are a problem and an unacceptable abnormality : it must be prevented by social control through all means, including single-shaming.
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Women also continue to be regarded as a ‘weaker group’ so they need protection, they cannot be alone. Instead of being empowered to be independent and stronger, women who are considered ‘weaker’ are even forced to be forced into marriage again (in this case, specifically, I am highlighting marriage with an element of compulsion, of course there is no problem if women really want to get married & have husbands). without coercion ) with unequal power relations that secretly weaken women. After a woman follows her father, she must follow her husband: a woman must always follow a man. This condition is still considered far better than leaving women alone. Anyway, women should not be alone.
Women’s freedom to choose to be single.
I realize that there are many reasons why a woman is single. Of course, every story is authentic, there is no uniformity: some are single because of divorce or because their husband has died, some are single because they haven’t met a suitable partner, and some are single because of their freedom of choice. No one deserves single-shaming. However, in this section, I want to talk more about women who choose to be single.
As a woman who likes to be single, I feel that there is not much room for women’s freedom to choose to be single in Indonesia. In the context of Christianity, perhaps women who are officially committed to becoming nuns can get some relief from social pressure—but for the rest, don’t expect it. Time and time again, since I was in college, I’ve met friends (boys, moreover) who think ‘I need a partner’ (and tell me to find a partner) even though I don’t feel like I need a partner myself—it’s funny to realize that they feel better. know more about my needs than I do myself. Because I clearly know what I need & what I want, I do not want to give a shit—but I have to admit, I was quite nervous. Anxious to realize that people (especially men) seem to enjoy hacking women’s freedom of choice.
Women’s freedom to choose to be single certainly cannot escape being given a place and attention—as is the case with women’s freedom to choose a career or vice versa, choose to be a housewife. Women’s freedom to choose singleness should be considered equal to women’s freedom to choose a partner and marry: there is no higher or lower choice, no better or worse choice. Women are free to choose what is best according to their wishes, needs and the context of their respective socio-cultural situations, without coercion.
To combat single-shaming, self-love is essential.
Since becoming a volunteer to accompany & support women victims of violence, I have become more aware of what patriarchy has taken away from women: self-love. Many times I have encountered stories of women who felt ‘worthless’ because of the patriarchal ‘moral’ rules that imprisoned women: women’s perception of being ‘worthless’ because they are no longer virgins, until women’s opinion is ‘worthless’ if they do not fulfill their obligations. conformist ‘beauty standards’. Regarding single shaming, do n’t forget that women are considered ‘worthless’ because they are single (especially if they are old)—’ not sold’,the word of patriarchal frills that arbitrarily equates women as commodities and like non-humans.
Instead of looking for recognition & a sense of worth in the identity of someone’s wife, mother, or lover—I believe, women need a process to make peace with themselves first, to re-accept, love and embrace themselves. To remind myself, again and again, that the worth of women is absolutely innate to a human being: nothing or anything that happens to women can change that worth.
I believe, to fight single-shaming, self-love is essential. Women need & must realize that relationship status does not determine their worth. Women are fully intact without having to attach status and identity to be someone’s wife, mother, or lover. Being single for any reason—including women who are widowed because of divorce or divorce (and don’t want to remarry)—doesn’t make women a level lower than those who are not single. All women are valuable, equal, regardless of their social status.
So, when I came across many social media campaigns about self-love on Valentine’s Day this year—I was relieved and grateful. At least we no longer interpret Valentine’s Day as a day of compassion for others or just a day of ‘pairing up’—but also a day to remember learning to love and embrace ourselves more (which is also essential). Moreover, for women who in a patriarchal culture, their aspirations are always ‘formed’ to be ‘complementary’ to other people and are singled out for shaming . I am no exception.*