<Warning- This is a little rambly, a little disjointed, but it’s come more from a stream of consciousness than anything else>
My sister-in-law is going through another one of her phases. The other day, she very kindly pointed out I’ve been single for three years.
Now, I have no problem with being reminded I’ve been single for three years. It’s been a choice, and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun. But sadly, every time a member of my family point out my “long standing single status”, I get looked at as if I have an alien trying to claw it’s way out from between my eyes.
No, luckily the one ally I have in my singledom is my mother. But I’m pretty sure she believes that, should I start dating, I’d make any potential partner’s head explode with talks about raunch culture, the objectification of women, and how patriarchy and capitalism are intertwined… She has faith in me, and it shows. But the rest of my family seem eager to get me married off by the time I’m thirty. Which gives me roughly two and a half years… (P.S. If you’re wondering; no, it doesn’t seem to matter whether I want to get married or not…)
See, my family have never been entirely comfortable with lone parents. Especially not those pesky lone parents who are happy being lone parents. See, the thing is, the patriarchy would rather we believed that a happy ending happens when you meet Prince Charming, and marry him on a crazy whim. YAY! Everyone knows that the Disney Princess idea of love is OH SO ROMANTIC, and not, in anyway, similar to the dynamics of abuse, right?…
So, on the whole “settle down with Prince Charming” note, I was left wondering, where were these films where the end result for any female protagonist wasn’t marriage, a big, puffy white dress, and all being well with the world? (Or at least ending up in a relationship with “Mr Perfect” by the end of the film). I could think of two, off the top of my head. (*Please note, I have not included films where the female lead is a child, for obvious reasons.) These were Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, and my personal favourite, Adrienne Shelley’s Waitress. We have a cinema industry that is over 100 years old, and we’re still being told the ultimate happy ending has to involve Prince Flipping Charming, and preferably the ol’ exchange of vows. The ultimate happy ending for men? Well, you could have saving the world, that big job promotion, “getting the girl” (a misogynistic concept in itself; women are not “girls”, nor are they prizes to be won for being the most likeable man in a film)
Ironically, I’ve always considered Waitress to have the happiest ending of all, but then, y’know… There’s another blog post waiting to come out there.
But the idea a woman can live, outside of men’s involvement in her life, is one that baffles society. But surely, this attitude is one that ensures women are more likely to stay in an unhappy relationship? If we’re told men are essential for our own existence, the idea of life without men becomes terrifying. Intriguingly enough, if we look back to the ol’ Disney Princess clap trap, there’s a recurring theme with the female villains. Every single “witch” is just that… single, and living without the necessity of men in her life. And it comes as no surprise when you consider that, during the witch hunts in Tudor/Stuart led England, the women accused of being “witches” were usually those who were deemed the polar opposite of a “good wife”. (80% of accused “witches” in Suffolk, for example, were women, and the practise of “Witch Hunting”, was women-hating at it’s highest example). A typically accused witch was, during the height of the Witch-trials, a spinster or widow living on her own.
Sadly, it seems that the stigma that’s attached to single women hasn’t been lost quite yet. We keep trying to shake it off, but when single women are no longer represented as “witches” in the films I share with my son, or no longer asked why they’re still single at the ripe old age of 30, then maybe we’ll be a little closer.
Anyway. I’m now off to ask people why they’re married. Just to be slightly awkward. What else, really, would you expect from me?…