Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taking a break from film and fashion ...

Picking up from the last post, Mary Richards actually spoke a fantastic line on a Mary Tyler Moore Show episode I just watched:

"Sometimes I feel I could discover the secret of immortality, and people would just say, "Oh, there's that SINGLE GIRL ... discovering the secret of immortality.'" 

While typing it here does it little justice, I consider the line (and Mary's delivery) so brilliant because it covers society's interest in relationships, and settling people, particularly women, in them as early in life as possible. At the same time, this interest (considered, "just what people do") demeans other attributes and accomplishments by individuals who choose alternate paths. As someone who has opted for a "single lifestyle," and has little interest in altering it any time soon, I completely relate to this. I have not lived in enough places to know if this holds true outside my hometown, but my choice to remain single is often considered an abnormal one. When I meet people, or endure "small talk," prime questions remain, "Do you have a boyfriend? Are you seeing anyone? Are you married?" No, no, and no.

Reactions tend to involve either confusion, and/or sympathy, poorly masked by politeness. Some individuals have actually boldly remarked I am "alone." Difficult to believe, considering I live close to my family and many friends ... I have become so used to this, I do not bother to feel offended anymore. However, I still question it. 

Going back to Mary's quote, I also often feel because I am single, what I do does not matter as much as someone who has landed that person and had a couple kids. I have smiled and nodded through many "relationship conversations" I cannot relate to, looking for a chance to interject and bring something about myself to the discussion. Often, I get a chance, but the conversations quickly turn back to the previous subjects. Maybe it's me. Maybe I am not interesting, or skilled socially. However, the topic of my single status never fails to invite interrogations. Meanwhile, Happy Marriages on the other side of the table can do no wrong. Everything they do is great, and wonderful. Because they can "do it all." I, on the other hand, am merely deficient. I landed a job in tough economy. I actually got to CHOOSE this job over other offers. But who am I dating? No one. Oh, that's too bad. 

Those last few sentences were meant to be sarcastic. This is not a pity post, and I do not feel sorry for myself. I only feel confused. Some of the most demeaning people in my life have been those in past relationships, and those who expressed attraction toward me. Why should I settle for them to matter in this society? 

Unfortunely, I have to close this hot topic for now. I feel a sudden craving to watch Mildred Pierce. This brings me to another point ... After all this, why do I still find it hypocritical that people tend to champion the single, hard-working women in films? Again, confusing! It's a mad world.


P.S.-I should add, I also do not look down on relationships, and people who have chosen them. Most of my friends are married, or in long-term relationships. It is of course, fine, but I still often wish for the company of more long-term single people. Furthermore, I only think the playing field could be more equal. People find happiness in all sorts of situations, and it is dangerous to assume the married couple happy, and the single woman alone and depressed. And let's just leave the general regard of single men out of this, because that just makes me angry. This has been my experience, and struggle, but I cannot speak for everyone, obviously. 


emma wallace said...

I opted to be single for years so I totally know what you're talking about. Unfortunately, it seems like it doesn't let up once you have found someone - then it goes like this:
1. Ooh! When are you getting married?
2. (Once engaged) Ooh! Have you set a date?
3. Ooh! When are you going to have a baby?

Believe it or not, I currently have a beautiful 7-month old and I have had many (many) people ask me when I'm planning to have another! People are wacky.

But I think you're awesome, gorgeous, smart and independent - I'd never feel pity or condescension for you in the least.

Shybiker said...

You speak the truth. I'm glad you're getting this off your chest.

Your story isn't unique: many single women receive the same rude treatment. People cling to social norms and are remarkably insensitive to the feelings of others when trying to impose those norms.

Hang in there. Live the life you want. I always viewed the fundamental message of the MTM show to be that every women is entitled to her own choices.