Last year comedian and TV host Chelsea Handler said “When you meet a single woman, congratulate her.” To me, no truer words have been spoken.
I always that the unwritten rule of “marry young, have kids, and live happily ever after” will never be applicable to me. I will turn 22 next year, yet I know a few people who have already married. Once or twice I asked them – some of them friends whom I know very well – why they decided to marry at such early age.
The responses vary, ranging from “we wanted to,” “my mom told me to do so,” “now I don’t have to feel embarrassed when buying condoms,” to “so I will have someone to take care of me when I’m old” (but isn’t breeding a human being and raising her for the main purpose of taking care of you a little selfish?).
It’s hard to admit it, but we really live in a man’s world after all. A lot of single women are pressured both by religion and peers to quickly find a partner and live a settled life. Once settled and married, they must breed. And hence they’re supposed live happily ever after.
To me the whole idea seems hogwash. Why should we force women to be in a relationship when she is completely capable of surviving alone? Why should we force women to marry, when they have a choice to live their life independently and free? Why are women subject to the notion that having a husband will do her good and bring her happiness? Why does society assume that all single women of certain age are perawan tua (old maids) who will live a dreadful and miserable old life and will die alone? In the age of globalization and technological advancement, how can society still have problems with single women?
Social media is where most of the single shaming continues to happen. A lot of families pass on subtle single shaming to their children, and those who grew up to believe it is struggle hard to find “the one.” When they do, they share their relationship virtually, thus cultivating single shaming online. Every time a happy couple posts their moments to Path, shares a picture to Instagram, and snaps a moment to Snapchat, a lot of single women are pressured. Love is a race to be won. No wonder the popularity of dating apps rises by the minute.
Unfortunately, the pressure to be part of a couple often does not compliment a woman’s personal feelings and/or belief. I was one of them once. I became stressed when I realized I was the only single person among my small circle of friends. The problem is, I seek deep and meaningful relationships and don’t do casual ones. As I grew older I realized that being single is not a shame to be rid of, but rather something to be proud of. Sure, peer pressure affects me every once in a while, but in the end I choose to be commitment free.
Being single in college did me great. I participated in several philanthropic activities, built a small library, did at least eight major researches, obtained the title Mahasiswa Berprestasi (accomplished student), had great GPAs, and even started my counter-stigma social project. As of now, why should I bother to be in a relationship that doesn’t enrich and benefit me?
So, to all women who voluntarily decide to be single, you are amazing and I will forever be grateful for your choice. And to those who are reluctant to decide so, please don’t worry about what society may say. Your life is yours, your body is yours, and you have full control of what you have in life. To those who think of themselves as odd and strange for not wanting to marry, just recite Luna Lovegood’s quote to yourself repeatedly: “You’re just as sane as I am.”
Chiara Anindya is a Communication student at Universitas Gadjah Mada. She runs the #MelawanAnggapan project and is outspoken about child mental health issues. She is passionate about new media and society research. You can reach her at email@example.com.