Delinquency of thought

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“Why are you single?”

“You are economically self-sustaining but you need to marry to be socially sustaining and happy”

This misguided compliment, often doled out to single unmarried women whether she is a celebrity or a normal citizen, has raised a question: If a woman is single without a life partner but doing great, can’t she still lead a happy and fulfilling life?

Many people will say no, thinking just about her romantic relationships but discounting her other many loving, platonic relationships. In our society, where a woman is discriminated and looked down upon, how can one be sensitive toward the feelings of unmarried women?  The worst tragedy is that a single woman is always vulnerable to prejudicial evaluations by married people of both sexes.

A  never-married economically strong woman in urban area  is considered as not attached, lonely spinster, cat lady  who loves autonomy, is carefree,  uncontrolled and  doesn’t like  to be told what to do, and when and how to do things. Likewise, a rural single woman is considered as unattractive, imperfect, having poor and irresponsible parents (not able to give enough dowry), and one who didn’t get the right match due to wrong astrological chart and so forth. But at both the settings, a single woman is considered immature with no social responsibility at all, easy person to get loan from and an object of sexual prey.  A single woman is always the odd one out, the one without the man, the one to be felt sorry for having the worst fate.

Expressing anger, depression and sadness is a part of life, but when it is articulated by single woman, it means “need to get laid” reaction from so-called responsible experts.

Even the government policies are not single-woman friendly. Single women are blasted for no contribution to fertility, but the government laws deny her reproductive rights.  Likewise, men have inheritance rights but a single woman should reach the age of 35 and assure her parents she will never marry. In addition, a single woman doesn’t have liberty to choose her dependent in her insurance claim as there is a mindset that she don’t have any dependent.

We are in a society where we know how to celebrate marriage but don’t know how to respect people who want to stay single and are doing just fine.  Mandy Hale in her book, The single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass has written “Single is no longer a lack of options-but a choice. A choice to refuse to let your life be defined by your relationship status but to live every day happily and let your Ever After work itself out”.  

So, the time has come to break the negative stereotypes of single life and feel proud of one of them and fight over discrimination against them.  We must bring down the cultural and legal wall separating couples and singles, and efforts need to be made to reduce implications like self-doubt and insecurity. Some of us have begun this cultural work, but we need much more participation.

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