Dear Single Women
Marriage is more about someone else’ s dirty laundry and bathroom habits. It’s about not having a moment to yourself, and endless chores, and to-do lists, and picking up after someone else on a daily basis, and enforced friendships with other couples you despise with the intensity of a thousand Suns, and horrible in-laws with whom you are forced to spend all major holidays (and possibly a fair amount of your weekends), and having every waking moment and every expense you make, being accounted for.
Art & words by Fanitsa Petrou
Dear single women, screw what people say about you. If you can master that, you are good to go. Life is sweet, and there for the taking!
Marriage is often not about the great dress, the attention, the princess-for-a-day thing, the wedding extravaganza and certainty NOT the ever after. It’ s about the next day, the next month, the next decade. It’s about someone else’ s dirty laundry and bathroom habits. It’ s about scheduled, and occasionally “duty” sex, and more often than a married woman would care to admit, “bargain sex” (as in: “I will go for this unrequited sexual act that makes me want to smother you in your sleep, and you will come with me to my parents’ anniversary party and actually not start a fight with my father” – kind of manner) And it’s about not having a moment to yourself, and endless chores, and to-do lists, and picking up after someone else on a daily basis, and enforced friendships with other couples you despise with the intensity of a thousand Suns, and horrible in-laws with whom you are forced to spend all major holidays (and possibly a fair amount of your weekends), and having every waking moment and every expense you make, being accounted for. And it’s about sharing your life with someone who thinks your home is a hotel with full, 24h room service, only difference, he gets to fuck the maid whenever the mood strikes, (HIS mood that is) because that is still pretty much what both parties sign for, the minute the guy bought a ring and the woman felt weak at the knees. And it’s about constant compromise, and bitter grievances and tiny, daily acts of revenge, and angry conversations you will have all on your own (usually while you are angry-folding clothes), and silences (and the granting, or withholding of sex) being used as weapons in fights that last for months, and the kind of murderous rage that both kills and feeds you. But mostly, it’ s about learning much too many details about someone you used to look up to. And this alone, can easily do you in.
Not to mention: It's about "allowing" a man to rape you because the alternative is a fight - if not a divorce. Or more likely cheating! (And this alone says it all!! It's the secret behind most long marriages. The one, "happily married" women would never share. In short, it's the things women endure and the things they sacrifice for the "sake of the marriage". Marriage is, if you like, a bit like communism: one hell of a theory that was supposed to solve all the evils born out of social inequality, but which when put to practise proved to have been nothing but another form of dictatorship: instead of equality, it offered a new version of rulers and pariahs; instead of justice, it offered servitude; instead of eternal companionship, it felt like being exiled to Siberia until you die alone and desperate in the fucking snow.
To put it in other terms (because I get it, thousands of years of conditioning are not that easy to be reversed): remember that weird roommate you had at college who used to steal your Cds and your T-shirts, keeping you up at night with foul cooking smells, ungodly bathroom noises and ominous death metal songs about “The Beast”?Who used to copy your papers without asking, and when drunk, angrily making passes at you, and the next morning pretending it never happened? Remember how you were too scared to take them to Student Court, because God only knew how they would react, right? Plus they were on the lease, and all the apartments near camp were taken, and you were penniless, so you weren’t going anywhere either… And remember how the only thing that kept you going, was the thought that by the end of the semester you could get rid of them? Well sometimes being married feels like that, but the “semester” won’t end, unless one of you dies… Or in any case, unless lawyers and judges and priests (and possibly policemen) are ushered in, to help you end, or escape it…
All the above should sober you up, and snap you out of it! Probably not, though right? Yeah. I thought so. Because the message that comes from every direction at you, is loud and clear and relentless: you are not much as a human being unless a man says so. With a ring. Nothing about you – not your mind, your heart, your intelligence, your empathy, your talents, your abilities, your dreams, your ambitions, your successes, your knowledge, your experiences, your strength, your individuality, your humanity - is important (not really!) unless you win the ultimate prize: become someone’s (anyone’s really) little wife. Don’ t be sucked so easily into this lie is what I’m saying. Even though it is built on thousands of years of brainwashing (and reversing it would shake Patriarchy so hard, it would shutter it to pieces!) Don’t fall for it, even though laws, religions and pop culture alike, are to this day sustaining it and empowering it. Don’ t buy into the conspiracy theory that tells you that marriage is the “secret to your happiness”, your “true destiny”, the epitome of womanly “perfection” and the one thing that solves all problems and grants you the right to walk with your head held high. And also, don’ t be intimated into believing that everything to do with you, is somehow related to your husbandless state:
If you work hard, it’ s because you don’ t have a husband to support you, and never because you enjoy your work (and are perfectly capable of supporting our own self!)
If you succeed, it’ s because you have nothing else in your life anyway.
If you fail, it’ s because you don’ t have a husband to help you and guide you on your path. (Because husbands just love having successful wives don’t they?)
And if you find yourself in any sort of dangerous situation, it’ s because you don’ t have a husband to protect you. (Because no married woman was ever beaten, raped or murdered, right?)
If you have lots of friends and lots of interests, love reading, dancing, taking classes, learning new things, and you live a full life, it’s because you have a lot of time on your hands and are looking to fill your empty life.
If you love going out, or travelling, it’ s because you are looking for a husband.
If you love staying in, it’s because you are moping because you don’t have a husband. And it is also the reason why you don’t have a husband.
If you don’ t have a relationship, you are just pathetic.
If you have a relationship, it is assumed that is not “serious”, unless he proposes.
If he proposes and you refuse, nobody believes you. And if they do believe you, they think you are a self-destructive fool.
Or a lesbian. (Because the idea of a heterosexual woman who values independence seems highly unlikely)
If you are happy, you are just pretending.
If you are unhappy for whatever reason, it’s only on account of not having been a bride.
If you have legitimate reasons to be sad, or stressed about anything (money problems, health issues, trouble at work, a friend’s death, neo Nazis in hoods, the war in Syria, or fucking global warming) it is always ALWAYS on account of your husband-less state and your desperation to reverse it.
If you speak up for your rights as an employee, a professional, a citizen, or (God forbid!) as a woman, it’s because you are turning “bitchy” on account of your lack of a husband. (Because husbands have such a calming affect on their wives, right?)
If you have a cold, allergies, lumbago or cancer, it’s because you are depressed for being single. (Which by the way, is how many doctors will see it too!)
If you have accomplished great things in your life, reached the top of your profession, made an actual difference in people’s lives, or the World at large, that’ s just not seen as equally important as keeping a clean house, cooking for your hubby and having a nice dinner waiting for him at the end of the day.
If you found success, fulfilment, peace of mind, or the cure for cancer, the way to end World hunger AND to bring Peace in the Middle East, these are not seen as nearly important enough accomplishments as landing a husband! (Any husband!)
If you play with your friend’ s kids, it’ s because you are jealous of their happiness - not because you are fond of them or are just being polite. And if you don’t play with them, it is again because you are jealous and bitter - never because you don’t feel like it. (Or because they are spoiled brats. Which lets’ face it, it is an actual possibility…)
If you have spent the bigger part of your adult life with a guy with whom you are in love, and whom you have consciously chosen not to marry, this is in no way shape or form seen as nearly as important as having been married at least for a few minutes with a random guy for whom you had no feelings, or connection. Because a pointless 5-minute long marriage trumps a serious long-term relationship, and being divorced, trumps being single every time! That's just the rule of any land...
If you love dogs, it’ s because you have no kids - never because you are an animal lover - which is what is of course assumed about the married women who have dogs. (Try volunteering at a dog shelter - or at any charity for that matter – I dare you! You will get to hear some very traditional mouthfuls that mostly start with “old” and end with “maid”. Or ones that start with “Cat" and end with "lady” - always a fave - even when only dogs are involved…. People just love the “classics” don’t they?)
And of course, if you object to being shamed and prejudiced against, and on occasion bullied by other women (always women interestingly enough, this being a “woman on woman” sort of “crime”) on account of being single, that’s because you have a chip on your shoulder and are jealous of their unmistakable “good fortune”...
It feels like you just can’ t win this. But try! Fight the injustice, the ancient sexism, the prejudice and the absurdity. The age-old brainwashing of Patriarchy. Speak up! Change perceptions. Put people in their place! Be a fucking bitch if you must! It’ s damn worth it!
Don’ t change your life to fit people’ s expectations. Don’ t get dragged into it, don’ t play this game, even though it is overwhelming.
Don’ t get married in order to feel finally “accepted”. Don’ t get married out of desperation. Don’ t get married in order to get that precious “social validation” you’ve been refused. Don’ t get married to please your parents. Don’ t get married to prove to your married friends, you too are “worthy” to be part of the “inner circle”! And definitely don’ t get married unless you fall in love AND are prone to compromising.
Have a great party in a wonderful gown - hell, make it white and lacy too if you must. Have exquisite linen, and floating lights, and centrepieces, and tall glasses, and name tags, and invitations with calligraphy and real gold dust sprinkled all over them! Have white doves, and swans, and horses garlanded with flowers, and midgets in top hats throwing rose petals in your face while reciting Rumi poems… Make it a spectacular affair and spend months preparing it. Get your friends to help you, and feel free to boss them around. Just because! Repeat to them “It’s my day! It’s MY day!” as many times as it will take for you to feel important (just like brides seem to be needing, is what I’m saying…) Get the wedding extravaganza out of your system, but don’ t get married just so you get to have that “special day”, even when the guy you have come upon, is anything but “special”. Don’t sign your life away, offering it as a collateral to a random guy, so that you too will have “your day”. And BTW, every fucking day is “YOUR DAY” if you are free to do whatever you want, instead of what you are supposed to do…
If – in spite of all the above - getting married is something that you still wish for yourself and you happen to be financially independent (by the way, work on THAT first!), remember that you will always, ALWAYS have a choice. Use it! Be picky! Be choosy! Don’ t sell your self short (or like, literally!) Don’ t go for the first guy who proposes, even when you feel he is not the guy for you, like women of past generations have done, just because they had no other choice. Don’ t attach your life to someone who is not worthy of your love, let alone your respect, just because he pays the bills! And don’t turn your life into a long, monotonous, mind numbingly boring array of thankless duties, just so that you will be – like your friends – finally a married woman, finally accepted in the “grown up” world, playing house with a guy you resent, making him the father of your kids! And avoid porn addicts at all costs for Godsakes! Which is to say: don’t invite into your life (and your kids’s lives!) the kind of man who considers the on-camera raping and torturing of women (and possibly children) an entertainment and a turn on! Think about it for a minute!
The thing is, if you are truly looking for your true mate - not just any guy to marry you – there is a trick to it: you have to be ready to remain single! To be so in need of something worthy of having, that no one else will do! And in order to do that, you need to embrace your single-ness so to speak: enjoy your life, without seeing every activity as an opportunity to meet your future husband. Stop living as if you are in a perpetual limbo, like your life is nothing but a countdown until you are saved by a man who holds the one and ONLY key to your happiness. It’ s degrading. Not to mention stupid. And completely divorced from reality. Plus, men can smell your desperation from miles away, like dogs smelling fear. (Yes! even when you are playing the Oh! so popular “nonchalant” game) Men are not – granted - particularly perceptive when it comes to how a woman really feels, but desperation? They know about. (Possibly because they have seen it in the eyes of most of the single women they have ever met…) Just relax already and forget about this all consuming “goal”. Stop trying so hard, let things happen and be OK if they don’t. And that’s the thing my dear: by not giving a damn, and by acquiring a sense of Self and a set of standards, you attract what would have never come your way, if you were to keep on being desperate, hiding your true self and trying to please every mediocre, commitment phobic, weirdo living in your immediate vicinity.
How to do that? By making conscious efforts to see that your life IS in fact a good one, and that it can also be fulfilling: your house is not just the place in which you sleep, where you keep your shoes and your treadmill, or have the kind of sex you hope will eventually lead to a wedding proposal. Open it to friends. Make it a home! Bake pies, cook hot meals for just yourself! (As in not just as a way of impressing a guy!) Plant flowers. Decorate Xmas trees. Celebrate significant moments. Travel alone or with friends, and not so that you will meet some adventurous stranger at some airport, but because it is fun! Which is to say: Live like your life is actually valid! Because, guess what? IT IS!
And stop trying to emulate the same sort of persona that got other women married. Stop trying so hard. Don’t be dragged into the vortex of self pity into which single women are so often being dragged. Don’ t buy into that whole “it’s my fault / I’m not good enough / pretty enough / young enough / thin enough / curvy enough / sexy enough / easy enough / low maintenance enough” narrative too, that prompts you to change yourself, become a compliant, dumbed down, surgically altered and possible malnourished sex doll, so that you too will catch some random porn addict’ s attention and make him the father of your kids. Because…well,... yikes! (Speaking of "yikes!": even if you do find the"man of your dreams", the guy who seems to be the one you have been waiting for all these years, when he gets on one knee holding a ring, do yourself - and your future children! - a favour: before saying "YES!" with a gasp, take a a deep breath, and ask him to show you his browser history first. Right there on the spot, before he has time to sanitise it. It can be an eye-opener let me tell you, and it can save yourself years and years of turmoil! Trust me!)
Be bravely and proudly yourself! Embrace the inner freak, the fighting-for-your-Rights-bitch, the crying-out-loud-at-movies-nut-case with the I-don’t-give-a-fuck-hair on Sunday mornings, the I-plan-to-age-and-you-better-be-able-to-deal-with-it self, if that’s what you are. Know that when you do, when you are finally really OK with who you REALLY are (as opposed to who you are “supposed” to be), you sort of radiate an aura around you, that invites your male equivalent instead of an endless parade of self-centered douche-bags who are looking for a stiletto-wearing housewife / sex slave. Your soul mate will be alerted by your “smell” so to speak, from miles away. The “smell” of someone real, (instead of one that was manufactured by lifestyle magazines, Instagram photos of other desperate women, porn, and old “Sex and The City” episodes) will shock him to his being and he will find you. (If being found is what you need, that is!) And if he doesn’t find you (possibly because he doesn’t exist...) be OK with it, Godammit! Rather than lower your standards and go for the first pervert who gives you the time of day. And if you are desperate for kids, look into other solutions that are available to women these days, instead of attaching your life and your kids’s lives permanently on some creep.
Above all else, stop trying so hard to be the “cool” girl who ticks all the boxes of what an “ideal” marriageable woman is: one who exist in order to make her man’ s life easy, and doesn’t have any kind of dreams that could get in the way of his comfort or pleasure. One who doesn’t mind being “taken care of” by him and in return spends her days cooking and cleaning and looking hot while doing it. One who is a “good sport” when it comes to porn and rape jokes, one who pretends to like watching big men passing a ball to each other for what seems hours on end (which is another way to say "sports"), and who plays video games with sexist / sadistic undertones. One who is looking like a Barbie doll, even when she is washing the toilet, or when her heart is breaking. One who hides her darkness, her intelligence and her complexity, and doesn’t mind being chained to the bedpost like a fucking dog, so that she too, will “get her man”.Because guess what? The man you will get, will be the kind that wants this kind of woman! And how is that a good thing?! Why would you want that kind of creep in your life?! (Let alone in your potential kids’ s life?!!)
“But there are just not that many good ones left!” I hear you saying though your sobs. I KNOW! That’ s no reason for you to go for the less than “good” ones though! (Or even the really, REALLY disgusting ones!)
Many more “good” ones would be around BTW, if the world was not so densely populated with so many insecure and desperate to get married women, who are so eager to compromise. Who go easy on them: mothers who were trapped in loveless marriages and so allow their sons (the only males who would ever love them) get away with murder; girlfriends who pamper to their ego and disguise themselves into the type men “go for”, so that they too will get to have the “special day” they were promised; wives who even as they write Facebook post about their “perfect”family, they just endure a series of daily indignities and pretend, and shut up, so that they won’ t be “out there” in the land of the “despised” ever, EVER again. We, as women have a hand in how this mess came about…. Because we have bought the lie that being single is a disease, and any (that is ANY!) man, its panacea. Men have believed this shit too: that they hold the key to all that we want. So why would they ever bother to change, I ask you? Why would they ever want to step out of the Middle Ages? Why would they ever evolve?
As for being daily judged on account of your husbandless state: do try to remember that for many married women out there, being smug and condescending and - let's face it - cruel to their single friends, and passive aggressively shaming them on every occasion they get, is a matter of self-preservation. They probably have been groomed from an early age to think of marriage is their only path, and it is probably their only source of pride and the only accomplishment they were allowed to have. So they hold on to it, even when it kills them (occasionally, literally…) Putting their single friends down, is their way of feeling like they haven’ t failed, their dreams weren’ t cheated, their life still makes sense. Which is to say that even the woman who got married to the most boring individual who has walked on this Earth, still gets to feel superior when she compares herself to any (literally ANY) single woman. Even if that single woman is the president of her country… Even the woman who got married to an abusive alcoholic who rapes her and bullies and hits her and her kids on a daily basis, still gets to feel that. Because the world still tells her that being unmarried is the lowest, most pitiful and contemptible form of womanhood, and being married to an abuser is nothing compared to that! Even with a black eye and bruises and stitches all over her body, even as she locks herself in the bathroom to escape her husband’ s rage, she still somehow manages to find comfort in the thought: “at least I’m not single!” And that about sums it up…
In conclusion, face it already: being single is NOT a misfortune and your life as a single woman is NOT a “waste”!
Though admittedly, getting married does shut people up! I’ ll grant you that.
Dear Single Women - Art & worlds Copyright © Fanitsa Petrou. All Rights Reserved. Any unauthorized use – copying, publishing, printing, reselling, etc – will lead to legal implications.
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