Why are you still single?
Aren’t you ever bored being alone?
Maybe you’re just too picky.
If you’re single, over the age of 25, or even younger, you’ve probably been an unwilling recipient of remarks like these at least once or twice. After all, single-shaming seems to be one of Indonesians’ favorite pastimes. From comedians to politicians, radio personality to religious figures, everyone is keen to remind us that when it comes to finding love (or being married), everybody has an “expiration date,” especially women.
But in her newly launched book, author Feby Indirani wants to remind people that being single, in this case unmarried, has its many perks – 69 of them to be precise. Published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 69 Things To Be Grateful About Being Single invites single women to smile, contemplate, and also to have fun, because being single is not something to grieve about.
“In Indonesia, the word ‘jomblo’ has such a negative connotation and it gives the impression that single people are suffering and/or embarrassing,” said Feby, referring to the Indonesian slang word for single, during the book launch at Ke:Kini co-working space in South Jakarta on September 6. “At the same time, there are movements that promote people to marry young as a key to happiness, and campaigns that promote polygamy as solution for single people.”
“But, in fact, there are many positive things that we can do while we’re single, that is often hard to do when we’re married,” she added.
Single people tend to have more colorful and unpredictable lives, said Feby, who recently published the short story collection Bukan Perawan Maria. They are freer to do what they want, pursue their passions and explore new things, among others. Accompanying each one of the points are colorful and attractive illustrations by renown illustrator Emte.
“Being single means that you can focus on developing yourself and to pursue whatever your passion is,” said Feby.
Asides from its cheeky connotation, the number 69 is chosen because visually it looks like yin and yang, a symbol of a balance, Feby said. Being single, while can be fun and fulfilling and free, also has its consequences, one of them is being single shamed. Still, it shouldn’t mean we should be ashamed of being single, she said. In fact, being single is actually better than being trapped in a wrong or toxic relationship. At the end of the day single people are only accountable to themselves, she said.
As a society, we need to stop perceiving being single as abnormal or shameful and make single people targets of ridicules, she said.
“Stop making people feel guilty about their choice,” Feby said. “Every option has a price to pay, so there is no need to harass other people's choices and feel entitled to judge other people.”
And the first step is by ending the use of the derogatory word “jomblo”, replacing it with the more neutral Indonesian word for being unmarried, “lajang.”
“You can start by standing up to your friends when they single shame you or someone you know, and stop telling jomblo jokes because language reflects your thinking,” she said.
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