The Outdated Stigma Of Being A Single Woman

The Outdated Stigma Of Being A Single Woman

A note to all girls feeling the loneliness that comes with being alone, and how to love yourself regardless of your relationship status.
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With societal hype on having a significant other still extremely prevalent and emphasized in modern media, many women often have the notion that it is necessary to have a boyfriend during key moments of their lives: dances, weddings (as a date), dinners, group outings, and so on. These same women also feel "incomplete" or like they're missing out on life if they don't have someone to share it with. But that notion is garbage. Here's why.

Ever since I was 11, talk of boyfriends and dating invaded the classroom during passing periods, lunch breaks, and after school. In sixth grade, many of my friends were "dating" each other. I had a crush on my then-best friend's brother and I wanted him to be my boyfriend (even though I didn't really understand the concept of having a boyfriend or what it entailed). All I knew was that it meant I was important if a guy liked me. And for some reason, the level of coolness increased if a girl had a boyfriend. Having a man was cool and significant. Even at 11 years old.

When I began high school, at least three of my friends got into relationships within the first two months of the year. So at 14, I felt like something was wrong with me for not being asked out. Everyone had a date for homecoming except for me. But I went to the dance anyway and had a great time with my friends.

In senior year, talk of prom was afoot in early September - months before the dance. I had friends complaining about not having someone to go with, which made me feel like it was something I should worry about, too. I brushed off the concern because I knew I'd likely be asked by my male best friend.

A classmate of mine posted her dramatic prom date woes on Facebook, stating she was "so sad" she "didn't have a date for prom" and that she felt "embarrassed" by the fact that she'd have to go alone. (I guess not embarrassed enough that she posted about it in a status though, am I right?) Regardless, the fact that she felt overcome with such emotion that she put her feelings in public for everyone to see meant that not having a prom date was SUCH a big deal to her that it made her question her own worth.

April rolled around and I stayed confident in the fact that I had a backup plan: my best friend would ask me. But then he asked the girl who made her dramatic Facebook plea. In that moment, I was hurt. Not because he asked someone else, but because I hadn't been asked at all. I was going to have to go stag - the biggest fear of many high school senior girls. It was shameful to not have a male escort you to prom. And it still is - for no good reason.

Despite being dateless, I went.

I asked a female friend to join me on a friend-date. She helped the night be memorable and fun. After prom, a group of my friends came over and camped out in my backyard. I didn't miss out by not having a boyfriend or date for the evening. I looked good, felt good, and had a memorable night being "alone".

In college, the cycle of single-boyfriend-single began again. Everyone who was someone had somebody to call their own. But not me. By the time I was 19, I felt like something was missing from my life - a boyfriend. I had never had one and wondered if something was wrong with me for not ever having had a boyfriend especially when so many of my other friends did. Was it because I was too mean? Too nice? Too big? Not pretty? These kinds of thoughts filled my head with serious self-doubt.

Back then, I didn't consider that 19 was still young and I had a wealth of time on my hands.

Later that year, I got into my first real relationship with someone I had known since I was 11. Though things started off well, our partnership soon became toxic. I was no longer excited to say I had a boyfriend or flaunt our relationship as a symbol of my status in society. Instead, I thought about the times I was single and had the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. Doomed from the start, I finally broke it off a year and a half later.

But oh no, now I was single again.

Though the relationship turned sour, I've seen friends in similar situations "stick it out" because they'd rather not be alone.

They say they stay because they love each other.

And because "verbal abuse isn't actually abuse." (Yeah, okay.)

I have heard women tell me that they can't come out for dinner or drinks with their friends because their boyfriend won't let them. I have known women whose boyfriends won't allow them to do something because other men will be there. I have been told by friends that they can't go out tonight because their boyfriend wants to stay home. I have seen the tension between two supposed lovers in person when she wants to stay, but he wants to leave.

Yet they all stay in their respective relationships. Why?

Women are still fed the idea that it is better to have a man want to be with us (in spite of being in a potentially abusive situation) rather than being alone. The stigma of being single, especially as a person ages, gets bigger and uglier with every year that passes. We are told that something is wrong with us if a man doesn't want us, or told that we need to change our bodies, behavior, or outlook on life in order to convince a man we are ~worthy~ of his acknowledgment.

Fuck. That. Noise.

After women reach the age of 20, the fear of being alone becomes more intimidating. It's a never-ending, anxiety-filled thought process.

If I don't get into a relationship soon, then I won't get engaged, and if I don't get engaged, I won't get married, and if I don't get married, I can't have children, and if I don't have children, then my entire existence as a woman has been for nothing!!!

How about no?

There's no proper timeline for when someone should be in a serious relationship or when they should be on track to get married. You can be single through your 20s and 30s; nothing is wrong with that. Hell, you can choose to be single for the rest of your life and still have a successful, fulfilling existence without thinking there's something wrong with you.

Whether you're in a relationship, freshly out of one, or perpetually single, you can choose to live your life according to yourself - free from the judgment of everybody else. Being single allows you a wonderful opportunity to re-learn how to become an independent person separate from the binds of a relationship. Your validity doesn't lie within the binds of relationships used only to keep up appearances. If and when you choose to be in a relationship with someone, you can re-prioritize and decide what'll make both you AND your partner happy - individually and together.

You can be happy on your own, and you can be happy with someone else. But until you find the person who makes you feel as if both things are possible without changing who you are, stay single and keep on truckin'.

Cover Image Credit: longhollowwomen.com

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A Letter To The Tomboy I Used To Be

To that girl with the baseball hat, board shorts, and grass stains, thank you.
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To the tomboy I used to be,

Thank you so much for making me the strong, beautiful, determined, and badass girl I am today. I am proud of who you've become. It is because of you that I can stand on my own two feet. It is because of you that I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

You were never easy to deal with. Mom and Dad had a lot to handle growing up. It was Dad who had to fight for you to be able to play boys' baseball. It was Mom who had to stand up to the boys that were mean to you for playing a boys' sport. It was both of them who had to cart you around to all of your games and practices, because playing one sport a season was just not enough. It was Mom who had to wash your clothes endless times, because the grass and dirt stains would never come out the first time. Don't ever forget who helped you become who you are.

Your attitude and thought process is very different from that of most girls. You grew up dealing with your problems through wrestling or fighting. Pettiness was not something you could deal with. Your anger came from losing a game, not drama with girls. You didn't understand why girls fought, or were so mean to each other, and to this day, you still don't understand it. You are different. You aren't like most girls by any means, which can be difficult for you, even now. You are so much tougher. You think differently. You are determined.

I love who you turned into. You are so strong; you handle everything with such passion and grit, that I can't help but thank you. Thank you for pushing yourself, and for not letting anything or anyone get in your way. The boys were mean sometimes, and the girls talked about you, but that never fazed you. That chip on your shoulder only made you strive even harder for greatness.

Thank you for making me unique. Thank you for making me extraordinary. Thank you for making me, me.


Love,

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Cover Image Credit: tumblr

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If You're Against Abortion, Here's What You Should Do About It

There's more you can-- and should-- do than picket outside Planned Parenthood

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Upon the recent passing of a law that permits late-term abortions, I have seen many of my friends cry out uproariously that our country is fallen and has forsaken God. While you could probably argue this point with other examples, I don't think that this particular one serves as proof of our current state. Let me first explain to you what this law really is about and then encourage you to take other actions to lower the abortion rate.

Now in case you're not familiar, New York recently passed a law allowing abortions during the third trimester of pregnancy. What I think a lot of people have still yet to realize is that this is only allowed in the case that the fetus is not likely to live once outside the womb or the birth will be of danger to the mother. So one more time for those who still might be confused, abortion doctors are not just taking babies out of the womb and killing them a day before birth because the mother decided she didn't want it anymore. This is to save lives and prevent pain and suffering.

I know many think that aborting a terminal fetus before birth still counts as murder, but let me equate it, instead, to ending life support for a loved one who is brain-dead. In many cases, these children are experiencing pain inside the womb only to be followed by more pain shortly before death once born. Parents that are choosing to abort their pregnancies in the third trimester for these reasons are devastated and only trying to end a child's suffering, often at the expense of their own.

Hopefully, I have convinced you that not all abortions are just being used as a form of contraception and that there are many painful stories about the necessity of abortion for a mother. What can you do to lower these rates though? Well, I might add that making abortion legal probably isn't going to do the trick. While you might want to close your ears to this information, women who want an abortion are probably going to get one whether it's legal or not. Many anti-abortion individuals happen to be the same individuals that are anti-gun control with the argument that illegal guns will be procured no matter the laws. Might I turn your eye than to the case of abortion and the fact that people will probably always do what they want to do. Anyhow, let me get off of my soapbox and actually provide some information.

If you're really in it to lower abortion rates, walking outside of Planned Parenthood with a sign, shaming the women who enter probably isn't going to do the trick. First of all, Planned Parenthood does more than just provide abortions, so you may be scaring/shaming a woman who just wants access to healthcare for her pregnancy out of seeking help at all. What you can do, however, is push for your local schools to teach real sex education and not abstinence-only contraception. Yeah, scary pictures of STD's might do the trick for a while, but as we've previously discussed, people are probably going to do what they want to do regardless of what you tell them. We need to be teaching our young people how to have safe sex, and just be teaching them about sex in general. I know that the thought of your teenager having sex probably scares the crap out of you but, if they're going to do it anyway, don't you want them to be safe?

Another thing that you can do to lower the rate of abortion is to call for easier access to birth control for women. When they can easily and affordably access safe methods of contraception, there are bound to be less unwanted pregnancies. The United States needs to not only be educating its youth about all aspects of sex, but it needs to be making it as easy as possible for them to be SAFE about it. It may not be your first preference for young people to be having sex, but if they're going to do it anyway, we need to ensure that they feel comfortable taking the countermeasures to be safe about it.

The last point I'd like to make before I finish up is that even if you think that abortion is morally wrong, it's not your choice to make whether or not another individual decides to get one. Many times this decision is going to be a painful one for the mother, especially if she knows that her child will not survive outside the womb. There is no reason to make this process more painful for her, or even dangerous by illegalizing it. We need to be supporting mothers and not shaming them for whatever decision they decide to make.

If you're anti-abortion, that doesn't mean you have to be anti-choice. If you would choose not to get one, that's totally fine and I understand that, but it's important to look at the bigger picture and ensure both the physical and mental health of our women who are probably already going through a lot. Now is not the time to tear others down for their choices. Now is the time for the human race to stand together and support each other and make sure that our country is a safe one to live in regardless of your beliefs.

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